Futures & Commodities

Gold rises as coronavirus spreads, US restrictions fuel safe-haven bids

An Argor-Heraeus SA branded two hundred and fifty gram gold bar, center, sits in this arranged photograph at Solar Capital Gold Zrt. in Budapest, Hungary.
Akos Stiller | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold prices inched up on Monday after an extension of restrictions in the United States exacerbated concerns about the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, driving investors to safe-haven assets.

Spot gold rose 0.1% at $1,618 an ounce. U.S. gold futures settled 0.2% lower to $1,622 an ounce.

The metal is on track for a 6.8% quarterly rise - its sixth gain in a row - and set to end the volatile month 2.2% higher.

"Gold is finally starting to shake its recent mantle as a risk asset and becoming more of a haven asset again, especially with the extension of national social-distancing controls through April 30," said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO. "$1,600-$1,610 is solid technical support and has held resolutely which has also helped."

U.S. stocks opened higher as President Donald Trump followed last week's massive $2.2 trillion stimulus package, the largest on record, by extending his stay-at-home guidelines.

Lower interest rates and looser economic policy tend to benefit gold because they cut the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets.

The pandemic has paralyzed economies worldwide. The coronavirus has already driven the global economy into recession and countries must respond with "very massive" spending to avoid a cascade of bankruptcies and emerging market debt defaults, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Friday.

"The recessionary fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak on the global economy suggests investors are likely to continue to seek refuge in gold," analysts at BNP Paribas said in a note. "We expect demand for gold to remain strong, at least until such time that economic conditions stabilise and the outlook begins to improve following the raft of unprecedented stimulus measures put in place by governments and central banks alike."

The dollar index rose against rivals, making gold expensive for holders of other currencies.

Among other metals, palladium rose 1.7% to $2,308 an ounce, platinum dropped 3.4% to $716 an ounce, and silver

slipped 3.8% to $13.91 an ounce.

The world's largest platinum producers - Anglo American Platinum, Sibanye Stillwater and Impala Platinum - have declared force majeure on contracts after a three-week national lockdown in South Africa forced operations to close.