Gold heads to highest in May as U.S. economic data highlights impact of coronavirus

Silver futures look to test psychologically important level at $17 an ounce

Gold prices headed higher on Friday as U.S. economic data underscored the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic on business activity in the America, providing safe haven support for bullion at around its highest level so far this month.

A reading of U.S. retail sales tumbled by a record 16.4% in April and fell 16.2% excluding automobile sales and gas price, due to lockdown measures implemented to slow the worst outbreak in more than a century.

Meanwhile, a reading on business activity in the New York area, the New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index, rose 29.7 points to minus 48.5 in May, the regional Fed bank said Friday, marking the second-lowest reading on record. Economists had expected a reading of minus 65, according to a survey by Econoday.

Gold for June delivery on Comex was up $10.40, or 0.6%, at $1,751.30 an ounce, after the precious metal surged 1.4% on Thursday. The current level of gold would place it around its highest settlement since mid to late April, according to FactSet data.

Meanwhile, July silver surged 77 cents, or 4.8%, to reach $16.955 an ounce, putting the industrial and precious metal near a psychologically significantly level at around $17 following a 3.1% rally in the previous session.

For the week, gold has gained 2.2% based on the most-active contract, while silver has rallied 7.5 % thus far this week, as of Friday morning.

Metals have also been digesting reports of rising Sino-American tensions. Reuters reported that President Donald Trump moved to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei Technologies, as the U.S. has blamed China for mishandling the outbreak of the novel strain of coronavirus.

“The souring of US-China relations has been lifting the safe-haven gold, which is fast approaching April’s 7-year high,” wrote Raffi Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM, in a daily research note.

Published: May 15, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. ET By  Mark DeCambre – MarketWatch

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