Gold Gets a Reprieve as Payrolls Sputter Quashes Fed Rate Bets

Updated on
  • U.S. economy added fewest jobs in almost six years last month
  • Gold futures post the biggest advance in 11 weeks in N.Y.

Employers Added Fewest Jobs in Nearly 6 Years

Gold has been rescued by U.S. payrolls. Again.

The metal had the biggest gain in 11 weeks after the U.S. added the fewest workers in almost six years, weakening the case for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. Before the jobs report Friday, a gauge of volatility in bullion fell to an almost four-month low, and the volume of U.S. futures this week was the least since the start of the year. Mining shares rose.

Bullion is coming off of its biggest monthly loss since November after signs of an improving U.S. economy spurred speculation that the Fed could tighten monetary policy as soon as this month. Higher rates curb bullion’s appeal against interest-bearing assets. Those bets retreated on Friday, with the odds of a June rate rise dropping to 4 percent, from 30 percent a week ago, according to Fed funds futures.

“It’s a pretty bad number,” Bob Haberkorn, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview, referring to the jobs report. “It takes the Fed rate increase pretty much off the table for June.”

Gold futures for August delivery jumped 2.5 percent to settle at $1,242.90 an ounce at 1:45 p.m. on the Comex in New York, marking the biggest gain for a most-active contract since March 17. Trading was 14 percent above the 100-day average for this time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A gauge of 14 senior global gold producers tracked by Bloomberg Intelligence climbed 8.3 percent, poised for the biggest rally since Dec. 16. Kinross Gold Corp., Barrick Gold Corp. and Harmony Gold Mining Co. paced the gains, each climbing more than 9 percent. Newmont Mining Corp., the biggest U.S. gold miner, led gains on the S&P 500 Index.

The addition of 38,000 workers, the fewest since September 2010, followed a 123,000 advance in April that was smaller than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The increase in May was less than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested an increase in rates would be appropriate if economic growth picks up and the labor market continues to improve.

Gold initially rose last month after a disappointing payrolls report for April, before succumbing to a stronger dollar that trimmed demand for the metal as an alternative asset.

— With assistance by Thomas Biesheuvel

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