Gold holds gain as weaker retail sales hurt US growth outlook

[NEW YORK] Gold held gains after rebounding from the lowest level in a month as falling retail sales in the US cast doubt on the pace of growth in the world's largest economy, boosting demand for a haven. Silver advanced.

Bullion for immediate delivery traded at US$1,224.34 (S$1658) an ounce at 8.53 am in Singapore from US$1,221.98 on Thursday, when it rebounded from $1,215.30, the lowest level since Jan 9, according to Bloomberg generic pricing. The metal is still set for a third week of losses, the longest streak since September.

Gold added 3.4 per cent this year as the Greek debt crisis and more stimulus in Europe and Asia offset the impact of a stronger dollar and prospects for higher US rates. Talks between Greek negotiators and euro-area officials will resume in Brussels on Friday after ministers failed on Thursday to hammer out terms for an extension of the country's bailout agreement. While the dollar fell by the most in nearly five months after the retail sales figures, it's still near a 10-year high.

"Weaker-than-expected retail sales data from the US lifted the bullion's appeal as the dollar softened," Australia and New Zealand Banking Group wrote in a note. On Greece, investors "will be looking for more concrete signs that progress is being made," the bank said.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was at 1,163.66 from 1,163.11 on Thursday, when it fell 1 per cent. The index closed at 1,174.87 on Wednesday, highest since at least December 2004. Lower fuel prices and higher wages failed to spur an uptick in US retail sales, which fell for a second month in January.

Gold for April delivery increased 0.3 per cent to US$1,224.40 an ounce on the Comex in New York. Silver for immediate delivery gained 0.3 per cent to US$16.9097 an ounce, heading for a weekly climb. Spot platinum was 0.4 per cent higher at US$1,203.13 an ounce. Palladium added 0.2 per cent to US$776.06 an ounce.


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