Gold hits 3-month high after run of downbeat U.S. data

Spot prices rose 3 percent last week, their biggest weekly climb in four months

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Gold hit three-month highs on Monday, rising for a fifth session, as a run of soft U.S. data supported expectations that the Federal Reserve will hold off hiking interest rates for the time being.

Spot prices rose 3 percent last week, their biggest weekly climb in four months, after recent downbeat readings of the U.S. jobs market, retail sales and consumer sentiment led analysts to conclude that an imminent rate hike is unlikely.

That took some pressure off gold. A hike in rates would raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,230.51 an ounce at 0923 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery were up $5.20 an ounce at $1,230.50. The metal has held in a near $50 range, capped around the $1,225 level, since mid-February.

“The data out of the United States hasn’t been particularly good, and people seem to think that interest rate rises have been kicked further down the road,” Simon Weeks, head of precious metals at the Bank of Nova Scotia, said.

“If gold can stay above $1,225, there’s room to move to $1,240 and even $1,250, particularly because the $1,175-1,225 range has been in place for quite some considerable period.”

On the wider markets, the dollar rose against the euro on Monday but remained close to last week’s near four-month lows. European shares edged higher.

Investors are now awaiting minutes of the Fed’s April policy meeting, due on Wednesday, for clues on the central bank’s opinion on the economy and when it could raise rates.

Hedge funds and money managers increased net long positions in silver and gold in the week ended May 12, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.

Hedge fund Paulson & Co kept its stakes unchanged in most of its gold investments in the first quarter, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed.

Silver was up 1.1 percent at $17.70 an ounce, while platinum was up 0.2 percent at $1,165.50 an ounce and palladium was down 0.1 percent at $788.97 an ounce.

As annual industry gathering Platinum Week began in London, the World Platinum Investment Council said in a report it expected the platinum market deficit to shrink this year.

Norilsk Nickel and other investors aim to complete a purchase of palladium from Russia’s central bank that it outlined last year by the end of 2015, deputy chief executive Pavel Fedorov said on Monday.