Gold prices on Friday posted their biggest weekly rise since November 2009, after a weak US labour market report renewed fears about the health of the world's biggest economy and spurred safe-haven buying.
US payrolls growth ground to a near halt in June, as employers hired the fewest workers in nine months, frustrating hopes that economic growth would pick up pace in the second half of the year.
Instead, some analysts and investors began speculating about how quickly a next government stimulus plan might be enacted in the United States, triggering safe-haven purchases.
"I think some people are looking at the jobs data as encouraging the next level of stimulus," said Tom Pawlicki, precious metals analyst at MF Global in Chicago, noting that it sent gold futures up towards their next resistance level at $1,550 (Dh5693.15) per ounce.
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Spot gold rose to a two-week high of $1,545.30 an ounce, then held around $1,543 for the rest of the session, up from $1,531.85 late in New York on Thursday.
Spot gold prices remained near the highs into late trade, gaining 3.8 per cent, the most since early November 2009.
US gold futures for Aug-ust delivery extended their gains to a fresh two-week high at $1,546, and settled $11.0 higher at $1,541.60, and added to gains in after-hours trade.
Weaker-than-forecast June US employment report dashed hopes that economic growth was picking up pace. Non-farm payrolls rose by a mere 18,000, well below economists' expectations for a 90,000 rise. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 per cent — a six-month high.
Adding to the weak tenor of the report, the department said the economy created 44,000 fewer jobs in April and May than previously thought.
Peter Fertig, a metals consultant at Quantitative Commodity Research, said disappointing public-sector employment after Thursday's ADP report showing a strong increase in private-sector payrolls sparked safe-haven flows into gold.
The dollar dropped against several currencies as the US jobs data strengthened expectations the US Federal Reserve would leave interest rates low into next year, prompting investors to embrace alternate safe-haven assets like gold.
A weaker dollar also often boosts dollar-denominated assets, such as gold, because of the advantage it provides buyers outside the US.
Analysts thought the dollar would likely trend lower in the week ahead in the aftermath of an abysmal US jobs report and without clear signs of progress on the approaching US debt ceiling deadline.
Both factors were also likely to spur further gold buying