Gold Futures Gain For Sixth Session, Settle At 7-year High

Gold prices climbed on Thursday, extending gains to a sixth straight session and hitting their best level since February 2013, as traders sought the safe haven asset amid lingering concerns about the global economic growth due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The dollar's continued strength amid optimism about U.S. economic growth limited gold's uptick. The Dollar Index was up 0.13% at 99.83 around late afternoon after having advanced to a high of 99.91 earlier in the day.

Gold futures for April ended up $8.70, or about 0.5%, at $1,620.50 an ounce, the highest settlement since February 2013.

On Wednesday, gold futures for April ended up $8.20, or 0.5%, at $1,611.80 an ounce.

Silver futures for March ended marginally up at $18.319 an ounce, while copper futures for March settled at $2.5880 per pound, down $0.0180 from the previous close.

According to National Health Commission, China had 394 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, down sharply from 1,749 cases a day earlier and the lowest since January 23.

However, the spread of coronavirus to other parts of the world such as South Korea and Japan rekindled worries about a global contagion.

There were over 70 confirmed cases in Japan as of Wednesday, the third highest number after China, while South Korea reported 31 new cases of the coronavirus today, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 82.

In U.S. economic news, a report released by the Labor Department showed a modest increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended February 15th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims crept up to 210,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level of 206,000

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 210,000 from the 205,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed an unexpected acceleration in the pace of growth in Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity in the month of February.

The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current general activity skyrocketed to 36.7 in January after spiking to 17.0 in January, with a positive reading indicating growth in regional manufacturing activity.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board said its leading economic index climbed by 0.8% in January after falling by 0.3% in December. Economists had expected the index to rise by 0.3%.

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