By Amrith Ramkumar
Gold prices climbed Thursday after the European Central Bank left its accommodative monetary policies in place.
Gold for December delivery closed up 0.8% at $1,350.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange -- its highest close since Sept. 6, 2016. The precious metal has risen in seven of the last nine sessions, supported by a weaker dollar, geopolitical tensions and doubts about when central banks will be more aggressive about raising interest rates.
After falling Wednesday following President Donald Trump's announcement that he and congressional leaders had agreed to raise the federal government's borrowing limit for three months, prices rebounded a day later.
On Thursday, the ECB left all its key interest rates unchanged and said it would continue its bond-buying program through December, "or beyond if necessary."
The ECB also raised its economic growth forecasts Thursday, pushing the euro higher against the dollar. A weaker dollar makes gold cheaper to foreign buyers. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against 16 others, was recently down 0.6% after closing at its lowest level since August 2016 on Wednesday.
Doubts that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates a third time in 2017 amid sluggish inflation have also pushed gold higher in recent sessions because gold struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets like Treasurys when interest rates rise.
Still, more hawkish comments from central bankers regarding rate increases or another Fed rate increase could quickly change the outlook for gold, cautioned Carsten Menke, commodities research analyst at Julius Baer.
Investors and analysts were also keeping an eye on tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, which have pushed gold higher in recent weeks because many investors favor gold during times of political uncertainty.
Among base metals, copper for December delivery closed down 0.3% at $3.1435 a pound. Prices have soared in the past two months to their highest level in almost three years, but some analysts warn that record amounts of speculative interest could lead to a sharp pullback if some investors take their chips off the table.
"This copper market is not in deficit and is not going to move into deficit in the rest of the year, which puts this rally on quite a weak footing," Mr. Menke said.