Investing.com - The Federal Reserve had been looking a little dovish and the latest U.S. jobs numbers raised more doubts about rate hikes in 2019, taking gold to its highest prices since the summer.
Benchmark COMEX gold futures for February settled up $9, or 0.7%, at 1,252.60 per troy ounce after scaling a peak of $1,255.80, its highest since early July. For the week, the contract rose 2.2%, its best weekly advance since mid-August.
The yellow metal got its boost after a U.S. Labor Department report showed nonfarm payrolls increased by a less-than-expected 155,000 last month. The data was tepid enough to lower bets for faster future interest rate hikes without fanning fears of an economic slowdown.
The continuous slide on Wall Street, which fell more than 2% on Friday on renewed concerns over the China-U.S. trade situation added more safe-haven shine to gold, analysts said.
The dollar index, another contrarian trade to bullion, was down 0.2% to 96.54 by 3:32 PM ET (20:32 GMT).
The dollar has lost its upward momentum since the start of November on dovish signals from the Fed, which has indicated a possible pause in rate hikes after a widely-expected December increase.
"The directional bias on the dollar has turned south as the initial speculation of three rate hikes in 2019 no longer holds," said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst for forex.com in London.
"Investors are clearly worried about the possibility of an economic slowdown and, as such, have warmed to haven assets, including gold," Razaqzada said. "Historically, low interest rates across developed economies had pushed investors into higher-yielding stock markets and away from government bonds. Now the reverse is happening, as central banks have started to normalize their monetary policies."
Among other precious metals on COMEX, silver rose 1.5% to $14.72 per ounce.
Palladium jumped 2.5% to $1,170.50 per ounce, while sister metal platinum rose 0.6% to $794.60.
In base metals, COMEX copper gained by 0.3% to $2.75 per pound.