Gold Trades Below Four Month High as Investors Weigh Ukraine, Data

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Gold traded below the highest level in more than four months as investors weighed the crisis in Ukraineagainst the outlook for the U.S. economy and slower physical purchases in China, the world’s largest consumer.

Bullion for immediate delivery was at $1,338.40 an ounce at 9:14 a.m. in Singapore from $1,336.90 yesterday, when prices rose 0.2 percent after a private report showed that U.S. companies added fewer workers than projected in February. The metal climbed to $1,354.87 on March 3, the highest since Oct. 30, as tension between Ukraine and Russia escalated.

Gold rallied 11 percent this year as concern that the U.S. recovery may be faltering and unrest in emerging markets including Ukraine boosted demand for a haven. Bullion rebounded from a 28 percent drop last year that was the biggest loss since 1981 even as the Federal Reserve scaled back stimulus. Russian forces occupied the Ukrainian region of Crimea, stoking concern that there may be military conflict between the states.

“While the situation between Russia and Ukraine has improved, the uncertainty of it is still expected to lift demand for a safe haven,” said Wang Xiaoli, chief investment strategist at CITICS Futures Co., a unit of China’s biggest listed brokerage. “On the downside, the pace of tapering isn’t expected to change unless U.S. economic data turns really bad. Above $1,300, physical buyers just aren’t that interested.”

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange-traded product backed by bullion, were unchanged yesterday for a sixth day, the longest stretch assets have held steady in 13 months. In China, volumes for thebenchmark spot contract in Shanghai have been lower over the past six days than the two-week high that was reached on Feb. 25.

U.S. Employment

Gold for April delivery was at $1,338.40 an ounce on the Comex in New York from $1,340.30 yesterday.

Data on March 7 is forecast to show U.S. payrolls rose 146,000 last month, after increasing 113,000 in January. Most U.S. regions grew last month even as harsh winter weather impeded hiring, the Fed’s Beige Book survey showed yesterday.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week the central bank is “open to reconsidering” the pace of cutbacks in asset purchases should the economy weaken. The Fed, which next meets March 18-19, announced a $10 billion reduction to bond buying at each of its past two meetings, leaving purchases at $65 billion.

Palladium traded at $772.75 an ounce from $773.05 yesterday, when prices jumped to $781.13, the highest since April 2. Platinum fell 0.2 percent to $1,475.63 an ounce after climbing to $1,487.88 yesterday, the highest since Sept. 9.

Talks to end a strike over pay at the world’s largest platinum producers collapsed as South Africa’s state mediator said employers and the main union remain far apart after six weeks of negotiations. South Africa is also the biggest producer of palladium after Russia.

Silver for immediate delivery added 0.2 percent to $21.2062 an ounce.