Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Sleepy Gold Market Is Woken Up by Flurry of Trades

  • Volume spike fails to hold bullion lower as prices head higher
  • Report shows company payrolls rising most in 9 months in U.S.

On a day when blizzard warnings blanketed the U.S. east coast, gold trading in New York got off to a stormy start.

In the 15 minutes ended 8:30, gold-futures volume spiked on the Comex in New York, with contracts equal to more than 2.8 million ounces of the metal changing hands. That’s almost eight-fold the 100-day average volume for that time of day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bullion futures for February delivery extended losses as trading surged. The moves coincided with the release of a report showing companies in the U.S. added 250,000 to their payrolls in December, the most in nine months. A stronger labor market strengthens the case for higher borrowing costs, which curb the investment appeal of non-interest bearing gold. The metal pared losses as volume began to return to normal.

“When an order that size comes in early on a morning with light volume, it can change the technicals, which can disrupt algos and trigger stops and limits,” Bob Haberkorn, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in an email. “As the day goes on, I do think you will see a more normal market.”

Bullion futures for February delivery rose less than 0.1 percent to $1,319.30 at 10:42 a.m. in New York. By that time, aggregate volume was just 34 percent above the 100-day average for this time.

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