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Metals Surge as Dollar Weakens

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03/16/2017 | 08:18pm CET
By Stephanie Yang and Katherine Dunn 

Gold prices closed at a two-week high Thursday, after the Federal Reserve meeting eased concerns that the central bank would raise rates more times this year than previously expected.

Gold for April delivery settled up 2.2% at $1,227.10 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, its biggest one-day gain since June 24, the day after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union.

Metals prices rose across the board, boosted by a weaker U.S. dollar. Copper for May delivery settled up 0.8% at $2.6775 a pound.

The WSJ Dollar Index fell 0.1% to 90.75, trading near a one-month low. A weaker U.S. currency makes dollar-denominated commodities like gold and copper cheaper for foreign buyers.

On Wednesday, the Fed raised short-term interest rates and reiterated plans for another two interest rate increases in 2017. Gold prices sold off leading up to the meeting, since higher interest rates make yield-bearing assets more attractive compared to gold, which doesn't pay holders anything.

However, analysts said the extreme pessimism in gold led to a boost after the Fed statement Wednesday. Some investors were also concerned that raising rates in March may lead officials to increase interest rates by more than planned at the start of the year, analysts said.

"Gold suffered with increased rate-hike guidance ahead of a meeting but walking the talk then caused a temporary price bounce," said Norbert Ruecker, head of commodities research at Julius Baer, in a Thursday note.

On Wednesday, Dutch voters rejected far-right candidate Geert Wilders, but traders and investors are now looking ahead to key elections in France and Germany.

"With the Fed focus now fading gold is likely to stabilize with stock market gains offsetting geopolitical risk demand," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, in a morning note.

Meanwhile in the copper markets, supply concerns continue to linger, helping to support prices.

In Chile, a labor strike at BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Escondida copper mine, the world's largest, is now in its second month. Workers at another mine in Peru, Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s Cerro Verde mine, are also striking, while the company is locked in a dispute over an export license in Indonesia, over its Grasberg copper mine.

Write to Stephanie Yang at [email protected] and Katherine Dunn at [email protected]

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