By Claudia Assis and Chris Oliver, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Gold futures ended higher Monday, catching some safe-haven flows after a soft U.S. jobs report Friday and as traders were nervous ahead of a busy week for corporate earnings.
Gold for June delivery GCM2 +0.77% rose $13.80, or 0.9%, to end at $1,643.90 per ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Some support for gold was coming from investors who may have judged recent losses “overdone,” said Stephen Platt, analyst with Archer Financial Services in Chicago.
Other metals futures were mixed, with some of those more oriented toward industrial production reeling in the wake of the disappointing jobs report.
Silver for May delivery SIK2 -0.71% retreated 21 cents, or 0.7%, to $31.52 an ounce, adding to losses as the session progressed.
May copper HGK2 -2.15% declined 8 cents, or 2%, to $3.72 a pound.
Earnings season has its unofficial kickoff with Alcoa Inc. reporting after the close on Tuesday. The week also brings earnings from heavyweights such as Google Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
The much-expected jobs report on Good Friday showed the U.S. economy created only 120,000 jobs in March, well below market expectations.
Hiring failed to top 200,000 for the first time since November. The unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since January 2009, but only because people dropped out of the labor force.
Overall, the current low interest-rate environment remains positive for gold, but “gold will need to find a firmer footing first,” analysts at Barclays Capital said in a note.
Two key factors to watch in the near term remain holdings in exchange-traded product holdings as well as consumption in India and China, they added.
As U.S. stocks and commodity markets closed in observance of Good Friday, Monday was the first opportunity for investors to react to the disappointing employment data. U.S stocks opened lower and oil traded lower.
Platinum and palladium diverged Monday, with July platinum PLN2 +0.57% tracking gold higher, advancing $10.60, or 0.7%, to $1,618.20 an ounce. Palladium for June PAM2 -0.43% declined $1, or 0.2%, to $643.80 an ounce.
Bank of Japan as catalyst?
Some analysts speculated that the Bank of Japan could unveil additional stimulus measures by the conclusion of the central bank’s two-day policy board meeting, which ends on Tuesday.
Societe Generale said on Friday that the Bank of Japan would likely boost its government-bond-purchase program by 5 trillion yen ($60.63 billion) this week, noting that it’s under intense domestic pressure to step up the fight on Japanese deflation. Read more about the Bank of Japan and monetary policy as envisioned by SocGen
Meanwhile, Chinese were active gold buyers at the start of the week as they piled into the inflation hedge. Data released early Monday showed consumer prices in March were up 3.6% on the year.
The inflation figure accelerated from a 3.2% increase in February and was above the 3.3% rate expected by economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires. Read more about Chinese retail-level inflation for March.
Claudia Assis is a San Francisco-based reporter for MarketWatch.
Chris Oliver is MarketWatch's Asia bureau chief, based in Hong Kong.