Futures & Commodities

Gold on course for best year in a decade

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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 were little changed in holiday-thinned trade on Thursday, but the yellow metal was en route to register its best annual performance in a decade.

Spot gold was almost flat at $1,893.84 per ounce, but was up more than 24% for the year, its best since 2010. U.S. gold futures were up 0.3% to $1,898.70.

"With reduced market participants activity on the last day of the year, I expect gold to move in a narrow range. Some modest support is coming from a slightly weaker U.S. dollar and modestly lower U.S. real rates," said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

"We look for a move towards $1,950 in the first quarter of 2021, with the expansionary monetary and fiscal policy pushing inflation expectations up and with U.S. real rates falling further."

The dollar index fell to a more than two-year trough, making gold cheaper for other currency holders.

European shares fell as wider coronavirus lockdowns in Britain reduced expectations for a swift economic recovery in 2021, despite the vaccine roll-out campaigns.

Keeping gold's advance in check was Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell's refusal for a quick Senate vote on a bill to increase U.S. relief checks.

Unprecedented stimulus measures and low interest rates to cushion economies from the impact of the pandemic this year have benefited gold, as it is seen as a hedge against inflation.

Silver fell 0.6% to $26.44 per ounce but was up more than 48% this year, its best performance since 2010.

Platinum rose 0.8% to $1,074.33 per ounce and was up over 10% in 2020. Palladium was up 0.4% at $2,372.04 and on track for a fifth straight year of gains with a 22% rise.