Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Gold Rises Most in Two Weeks on Equities Drop, Mideast Tensions

  • Saudi-Iran dispute spurs gold after longest slump since 1998
  • Silver gains on first trading day of year; palladium declines

Gold had the biggest gain in two weeks as plunging global equities and mounting tensions in the Middle East spurred a return to haven assets.

QuickTake The Rise and Fall of Gold

Emerging markets equities slid the most since August and the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 300 points, as slowing Chinese manufacturing triggered a selloff that halted trading in Shanghai. Saudi Arabia and some of its allies severed or downgraded ties with Iran in the biggest meltdown in relations between the two regional powers in almost three decades.

The gain in gold followed a third straight year of losses in 2015, as prospects for rising U.S. interest rates boosted the dollar and made competing assets that offer a yield more attractive. Shares of bullion producers rallied on Monday, with Newmont Mining Corp., the biggest U.S. gold producer, rising to the highest since mid-December.

“We could pick up in the course of two or three weeks all our losses from last year in gold if things heat up in the Middle East,” Peter Thomas, a senior vice president at Zaner Group LLC, a metals broker in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Obviously, the slowdown in China is real. With gold and silver at close to production costs, people are thinking, this isn’t a bad place to be.”

Gold futures for February delivery rose 1.4 percent to settle at $1,075.20 an ounce at 1:45 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest advance since Dec. 21. The precious metal sank 10 percent last year, capping the longest slump since 1998.

Holdings in gold exchange-traded products dropped 2.56 metric tons to 1,463.9 tons on Friday, near the lowest in more than six years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The assets shrank 8.3 percent in 2015, a third year of declines.

Silver futures for March delivery rose 0.3 percent to $13.841 an ounce on the Comex. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, palladium and platinum retreated.

“When you look across the board, there’s just a little bit of geopolitical risk coming back into the market,” Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Ayers Alliance Securities in Sydney, said by phone.

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