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Gold traders get little rest from 'wild day' as volatility jumps

New York

US President Donald Trump and the Federal Reserve are messing with gold traders' heads.

Bullion got whipsawed last week as comments from Fed chairman Jerome Powell damped expectations for a lengthy easing cycle, while fresh US tariff threats a day later fuelled global-growth concerns that renewed demand for the metal as a haven. Payrolls data on Friday showing higher US wages and slower job gains did little to add clarity.

"We had a wild day in the markets yesterday, perhaps apt considering that this is the start of August when crazy things usually happen," Ed Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone, said in a report on Friday. "Market conditions remain unsettled."

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The CBOE/Comex Gold Volatility Index, a measure of price swings on gold futures, rose the most in six weeks on Friday. Spot gold slipped 0.3 per cent to 1,440.83 an ounce in New York, while gold futures for December delivery settled 1.8 per cent higher on the Comex.

A US government report on Friday showed average hourly earnings climbed 3.2 per cent from a year earlier, better than forecast, while the three-month average increase in payrolls was the slowest in almost two years.

That came a day after Mr Trump said in a tweet he plans to impose a 10 per cent tariff on US$300 billion of Chinese imports beginning Sept 1, and Beijing pledged to respond if he follows through.

"Basically, the US payrolls number didn't really matter at all today because Trump has unleashed the beast on China," Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets, said on Friday.

Jewellery sellers are also noticing market fluctuations. Holders of gold watches, earrings and necklaces know their window for getting a good price can be narrow, and they're quick to sell their treasures, said Tobina Kahn, president of House of Kahn Estate Jewelers in Chicago.

"Now there's more of a decision because I think the average person who sells jewels is understanding of the markets - that the market can change with a tweet," Ms Kahn said on Friday. "They decide very quickly that day only because they realise that it might not continue to go up. They know that there's volatility." BLOOMBERG