Gold prices erased all the gains clocked at the start of the week and closed lower despite an unexpected fall in non-farm payrolls in December. Weakness in gold largely coincided with the sharp spike in US Treasury yields. Last week, international gold prices were down by 2.61% and at MCX prices were down by 2.54%.
The benchmark 10-year bond yield scaled a fresh high for the first time in 10 months and held above 1% which helped the dollar rebound strongly. A stronger dollar makes gold more expensive for holders of other currencies, while higher bond yields increase the opportunity cost of holding the non-interest yielding gold.
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Democrats’ control of the US Senate has fueled hopes of large stimulus measures and boosted inflation expectations, underpinning gold’s appeal as an inflationary-hedge. But higher inflation expectations and bond yields have also bolstered Federal Reserve officials’ hopes that the central bank’s new monetary policy approach is taking hold.
US Federal Reserve policymakers continued to back the status quo of near-zero rates and bond purchases to support the recovery as vaccines are rolled out across the country, according to the minutes of the central bank’s last policy meeting.
U.S. private companies shed workers in December for the first time in eight months as out-of-control COVID-19 infections unleashed a fresh wave of business restrictions. Payrolls decreased by 140,000 jobs last month, the first decline since April, after increasing by 336,000 in November. The economy has recovered 12.4 million of the 22.2 million jobs lost during the pandemic. Investors had forecasted 71,000 jobs would be added in December.
For the week ahead, five speeches by Federal Reserve policymakers, including one by Fed Chair Jerome Powell, will likely draw just as much attention as the two high rated data releases on the economic data front, the December US inflation report (CPI) and the December US retail sales report.