Gold ended higher in an abbreviated trading session Thursday, as weakness in the U.S. dollar supported prices before the Christmas break. Dollar weakness usually benefits gold, as it boosts the metal’s appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Global financial markets closed early on Thursday, Christmas Eve, and remained shut for Christmas Day on Friday.
Gold for February delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange tacked on $7.60, or 0.71%, to close the week at $1,075.90 a troy ounce. For the week, prices of the precious metal rose $10.90, or 1.03%, just the second weekly gain over the past ten weeks.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, settled at 98.02 by close of trade, down 0.72% for the week.
The index fell to a more than one-week low of 97.94 earlier Thursday, as investors booked profits on their bullish dollar bets following the Federal Reserve’s widely-anticipated interest rate hike last week.
With the first U.S. rate hike since 2006 out of the way, the focus is now on the pace of future rate increases. The Fed, from its forecasts, is anticipating four rate hikes next year. However, the Fed funds futures currently suggests there will be just two rate increases, one in June and one in December.
Mixed U.S. economic reports released throughout the week failed to offer clues as to how fast the U.S. central bank will raise interest rates next year.
Data on Tuesday showed that the U.S. economy grew 2.0% in the third quarter, downwardly revised from a preliminary estimate of 2.1%, but above expectations for 1.9%.
That was followed by data on Wednesday showing orders for U.S. core capital goods, a key barometer of private-sector business investment, declined 0.4% last month, while shipments of core capital goods, a category used to calculate quarterly economic growth, slumped 0.5%.
However, separate reports revealed that initial jobless claims fell more than expected last week, personal spending rose for the eighth straight month in November, while consumer sentiment improved to a five-month high in December.
Gold is on track to post an annual decline of approximately 9% in 2015, the third yearly loss in a row, as speculation over the timing of a Fed rate hike dominated market sentiment for most of the year.
Also on the Comex, silver futures for March delivery added 9.2 cents, or 0.64%, on Thursday to settle at $14.37 a troy ounce. Silver prices sank to $13.62 on December 14, a level not seen since August 2009.
On the week, silver futures rose 26.9 cents, or 2.01%. Silver is on track to post an annual decline of nearly 6% this year.
Monday, December 28
Markets in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Canada will remain closed in observance of Boxing Day.
Tuesday, December 29
The U.S. is to release a report on consumer confidence as well as data on the trade balance.
Wednesday, December 30
The U.S. is to publish private sector data on pending home sales as well as the weekly government report on crude oil inventories.
Thursday, December 31
Markets in Japan and Germany will remain closed for New Year’s Eve.
The U.S. is to produce weekly data on initial jobless claims as well as a report on manufacturing activity in the Chicago region.
Friday, January 1
China is to publish government data on manufacturing activity for December.
Meanwhile, markets in China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Switzerland, the U.K., Canada and the U.S. will remain closed for the New Year’s holiday.