Gold prices surge 2.5% to kick off new year, move above key level at $1,900 – MarketWatch

Futures for gold were over 2% higher Monday after putting in the best annual return in a decade, with the move for bullion coming as the dollar sank to around a 2 1/2-year nadir.

Gold dealers were attributing the rise in the yellow metal to above a psychological round-number price at $1,900 to nagging worries about the COVID-19 pandemic. The boost was tied to rising hospitalizations and deaths, richly valued stocks and expectations that fiat currencies will likely see more devaluation as governments spend more to limit the economic damage from the pathogen.

The U.S. saw at least 201,476 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, and at least 1,353 people died, according to a New York Times tracker. In the last week, the U.S. has averaged 212,893 cases a day, down 1% from the average two weeks ago

“Multiple factors are likely to continue lending support for gold in the upcoming months,” wrote Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a Monday note. “The pandemic will not disappear in a matter of weeks with tougher lockdowns also expected as Covid cases continue to rise. Hence central banks will need to keep policy loose by expanding their balance sheets. And given we are starting 2021 with extraordinarily rich valuations in equity markets, gold is a must-have asset in portfolios,” he wrote.

The dollar was trading off 0.5% to around 89.528, near its lowest level since April of 2018, as measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY,
-0.27%
,
a gauge of the buck against a half-dozen monetary units.

Against that backdrop, futures for gold for February delivery
GCG21,
+2.20%

GOLD,
+6.72%

GC00,
+2.20%

picked up $46.20 to trade at $1,941.40 an ounce, a gain of 2.5%.

Silver futures for March delivery
SIH21,
+4.10%

SI00,
+4.10%

SI00,
+4.10%
,
  meanwhile, rose $1.07, or 4%, to trade at $27.485 an ounce.

The moves for gold and silver come after the commodities produced their best annual gains since 2010, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Gold rose around 0.5% last week, and 6.3% in December, and nearly 25% in 2020, with gains slowed to a mere 0.3% rise in the last three months of 2020.

Silver futures logged a more than 2% climb last week, a 17% rise in December, and a roughly 48% annual advance last year, aided by an almost 13% surge in the fourth quarter.