Gold gains slightly in early Asia with Korean peninsula in focus
Gold prices ticked up slightly in early Asia on Monday with geopolitical tensions in focus as the U.S. moved an aircraft carrier group closer to the Korean peninsula and as concerns linger over a missile strike on a Syrian airbase last week remain.
Gold for June delivery settled rose 0.04% to $1,256.45 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Silver futures on the Comex eased 0.11% to $17.973 a troy ounce and copper futures were last quoted at 2.643 a pound.
A light regional data day is ahead in Asia with home loans figures from Australia for February seen up 0.1% month-on-month and remarks by Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda scheduled. Later on Monday Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak at the University of Michigan with investors looking for fresh cues on the timing of the next U.S. rate hike and plans to trim the bank’s balance sheet, particularly after weaker than expected jobs data on Friday.
Last week, gold prices retreated from five-month highs on Friday as the stronger dollar weighed on the precious metal.
Prices surged early Friday after the U.S. launched cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base in the aftermath of suspected chemical-weapons attacks.
But the precious metal gave back gains as the dollar rose despite disappointing U.S. employment data as investors remained focused on the Federal Reserve’s plans to tighten monetary policy.
The Labor Department reported on Friday that the U.S. economy added just 98,000 jobs last month, the fewest since last May and well below the forecast for jobs growth of 180,000. Lower temperatures and winter storms accounted for the slowdown in hiring.
The unemployment rate ticked down to a 10-year low of 4.5%, pointing to underlying strength in the labor market.
The dollar initially sold off following the release of the weaker-than-anticipated employment data before regaining ground.
The dollar was boosted after New York Fed President William Dudley said on Friday that plans to trim the Fed’s balance sheet later this year would prompt only a "little pause" in its rate hike plans.
A strong U.S. dollar usually weighs on gold, as it dampens the metal's appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.