Gold futures settled lower on Friday as strength in the U.S. dollar and equities in the wake of the monthly domestic jobs report dulled investment demand for the precious metal.
Prices, however, gained for the week, buoyed by uncertainty surrounding the pace of interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve.
February gold GCG7, -0.71% fell $7.90, or 0.7%, to settle at $1,173.40 an ounce, after notching its highest settlement in five weeks on Thursday. Expectations about the pace of rate increases—a negative for gold that doesn’t offer a yield—has cooled somewhat. For the week, the yellow metal tallied a 1.8% gain, according to FactSet data.
Meanwhile, March silver SIH7, -0.73% was off 11.8 cents, or 0.7%, at $16.519 an ounce, paring its weekly rise to roughly 3.3%. March copper HGH7, +0.26% added less than a cent to $2.546 a pound—up about 1.6% for the week.
The Labor Department reported that 156,000 jobs were added in December to cap off the sixth straight year in which the economy created more than 2 million new jobs. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted a 180,000 increase in new nonfarm jobs. The unemployment rate rose to 4.7% from 4.6%.
An increase in wage growth, however, provided support for the argument that the employment market remains on a solid footing. Average hourly wages jumped 0.4% to $26 last month, while hourly pay increased 2.9% from December 2015 to December 2016, marking the fastest 12-month increase since a recovery that began in mid-2009.
Strength in the dollar, with the ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.79% a measure of the currency against six rival currencies, tacking on 0.7% Friday, weighed on gold, which is priced in the currency. A stronger buck makes assets priced in the currency more expensive to buyers using other monetary units.
As gold futures settled, U.S. equities traded broadly higher, with the Dow Jones IndustrialDJIA, +0.32% just a few points short of the key 20,000 level. That drew more investor attention away from gold.
But the precious metal gained for the week, with “traders and investors seeing it as oversold and a good value at these levels,” Mark O’Byrne, research director at GoldCore, told MarketWatch.
“Uncertainty regarding the soon to be inaugurated president-elect Donald Trump, the forthcoming elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands and the risks these pose to the eurozone is likely leading to a safe-haven bid,” he said.
O’Byrne also said that “the ongoing political spectacle this week between Trump and sections of the intelligence community is a continuing geopolitical risk and shows how unstable the political situation in the U.S. remains.”
Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said momentum for a rise in gold has been aided by uncertainty raised about the pace of rate increases after the release on Wednesday of minutes from most recent meeting of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.
“FOMC minutes reminded the street that the higher dollar may have done some of the Fed’s work for it, reining in inflation and economic activity, while members also reminded traders it remains uncertain what Trump plans/is able to actually do,” Cieszynski wrote in a Friday note.
The Fed had indicated in December that at least three rate increases were in the offing for 2017, according to a forecast of interest rates from members of the central bank, known as the dot-plot.
Among other metals traded on Comex, palladium was a standout.
Palladium futures rose Friday, with the March contract PAH7, +2.55% up $20.15, or 2.7%, at $758.35 an ounce.
Prices for the metal saw a weekly gain of roughly 11%, which would be the largest gain of its kind since the week ended March 6, FactSet data show.
Analysts at precious-metals consultancy Metals Focus said in a recent report that “automotive demand should post another record high,” driven by healthy demand in China and the U.S. Palladium is used in automobile catalytic converters.
Part of the metal’s expected climb will also likely be “at the expense of platinum’s use in diesel catalysts in Europe,” the analysts said.
April platinum PLJ7, -0.43% settled at $970.60 an ounce, down $5.40, or 0.6%—still ending 7.2% higher on the week.
In exchange-traded securities Friday, the SPDR Gold Trust GLD, -0.74% was off 0.8%, trading about 1.9% higher on the week, while the iShares Silver Trust SLV, -0.76%declined 1.1%—still about 3.1% higher for the week. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETFGDX, -3.49% gave up 4.7%, cutting its weekly gain to 5.7%