By Myra P. Saefong and Barbara Kollmeyer
Gold prices declined Thursday to mark their lowest settlement since mid-October, after a volatile few days of trading since the announcement of a new omicron variant of COVID late last week.
Most traders and investors believe that the omicron variant “won’t cause catastrophic damage to the global economy,” Chintan Karnani, director of research at Insignia Consultants, told MarketWatch.
“They are preferring stocks over safe havens like gold,” he said. “Technical traders are also not buying as short term technicals are bearish.”
For now, “traders are just hitting in the dark” until there is “clarity” on omicron from the World Health Organization, said Karnani. “Gold and safe havens are not in their short term portfolio. Some traders are just sitting on cash, as well, in the last month of the year.”
The most active February gold contract /zigman2/quotes/217725591/delayed GCG22 -0.13% /zigman2/quotes/210034565/delayed GC00 -0.13% lost 1.2%, or $21.60, to settle at $1,762.70 an ounce on Comex. That was the lowest settlement for a most-active contract since Oct. 12, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
March silver /zigman2/quotes/218218251/delayed SIH22 +1.65% fell 2 cents, or 0.1% to $22.316 an ounce, a day after posting a decline of 2.1%.
“Omicron fears have somewhat subsided late this week and that’s putting some risk appetite back into the marketplace. A slumping crude-oil market this week is also a negative for the metals markets,” said Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco.com, in a note to clients.
That said, gold has struggled to see much haven boost from the variant, with the precious metal trading 1.3% lower so far this week.
“With markets in mayhem and investors’ behaviour becoming extremely volatile, gold prices may increase if omicron cases continue to rise,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade, in a market update.
Among U.S. economic data Thursday, weekly jobless claims rose 28,000 to 222,000, partly reversing a big plunge in the prior week that had pushed new jobless claims down to a 52-year low.
Meanwhile, the ICE U.S. Dollar Index /zigman2/quotes/210598269/delayed DXY +0.23% , was trading higher at 96.138, and the 10-year Treasury note yields /zigman2/quotes/211347051/realtime BX:TMUBMUSD10Y -1.86% was at 1.455%, up from 1.433% Wednesday.
Changes in the dollar and Treasury yields can influence gold because the metal is priced in U.S. dollars and doesn’t bear any interest.
Among other metals traded on Comex, March copper /zigman2/quotes/216237645/delayed HGF22 +1.38% tacked on 1.2% to $4.299 a pound.
January platinum /zigman2/quotes/222209103/delayed PLF22 +2.45% fell 0.2% to $933.10 an ounce, while March palladium /zigman2/quotes/223562561/delayed PAH22 +3.14% added 1% to $1,771.40 an ounce. Both trade a bit lower for the week so far, and are on track end with losses for the year.