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Gold zooms toward $1,700 as virus fuels a 'plethora' of concerns

Feb 24. 2020
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By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Luzi Ann Javier, Yvonne Yue Li · BUSINESS, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS

Gold hovered near $1,700 an ounce, extending its rally to the highest in more than seven years, as investors pile into haven assets amid mounting worries that the coronavirus could turn into a global pandemic.

Italy's financial hub is in virtual lockdown as the outbreak spread further outside China, heightening concerns of slowing global economic growth. Traders are loading up on bets that central banks will step in to support the economy by cutting borrowing costs -- a move that would help boost the appeal of non-interest bearing gold. Copper and other industrial metals fell.

Bullion futures have rallied about 10% on the Comex this year as China imposed road blocks and quarantines to contain the virus, delaying deliveries of raw materials around the world and damping the outlook of companies including Apple Inc. Last week, hedge funds and other large speculators made the biggest-ever bet on bullion.

"A plethora of global concerns" has seen traders aggressively building up their bullish bets on gold, Keith Wildie, a senior commodities broker at R.J. O'Brien, said in a telephone interview. "The virus today is front and center."

Gold futures for April delivery advanced 1.5% to $1,673 an ounce at 10:02 a.m. on the Comex in New York, after climbing to $1,691.70, the highest for a most-active contract since early 2013. Prices are up for an eighth straight session. Silver futures also rose.

The long position in U.S. gold futures and options surged 22% in the week ended Feb. 18 to the largest in records going back to 2006, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released Friday. The rally also spurred the most volume ever in the metal's call options last week.

Copper futures for May delivery fell 1% to $2.5895 a pound on the Comex in New York as investors exited riskier assets including commodities and equities. On the London Metal Exchange, copper, aluminum, nickel, zinc, lead and tin also declined.

Platinum and palladium, which are mostly used to curb emissions from vehicles, fell on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


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