Gold Rises 1% as European Bank Leaves Rate Unchanged


Gold rose on Thursday, boosted by the European Central Bank's decision to not take fresh action to inject liquidity into the euro zone market, which helped weaken the dollar and increased bullion's currency-hedge appeal.

The European Central Bank left interest rates on hold and unveiled no other measures to bolster a fragile euro zone recovery on Thursday, despite forecasting low inflation for years to come.

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The ECB news sparked a 1 percent rally in the euro versus the dollar, its highest since late September.

"The strong showing of the euro is positive for gold, and geopolitical tensions are supporting the market as well," said James Steel, chief precious metals analyst at HSBC.

Gold has been up on high tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine. Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum on the decision in 10 days' time in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.

Spot gold rose 1 percent to $1,350.31 an ounce by 3:48 p.m. EST (2048 GMT), reversing losses earlier in the session.

U.S. COMEX gold futures for April delivery settled up $11.50 to $1,351.80 an ounce, with trading volume about 10 percent above its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters showed.

Traders said that bullion investors covered their bearish bets ahead of Friday's closely watched U.S. nonfarm payrolls report.

However, the yellow metal could fall in response to the jobs data because gold had already rallied in response to recent signs of disappointing U.S. economic activity, Steel said.

A Reuters poll of economists forecast a pick-up in U.S. jobs growth in February, although the gain is likely to be tepid given the unrelentingly harsh winter weather.

Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a three-month low last week, suggesting some strength in a labor market that has been hobbled by severe weather.

Among other precious metals, platinum rose 0.3 percent to $1,479.25 an ounce, trading near a six-month high of $1,486.00 hit on Wednesday, as a six-week old wage strike at the world's three top platinum producers in South Africa showed no signs of ending.

Credit Suisse said in a note that the current rally in the platinum price is likely to persist until the strike is resolved.

Palladium rose to a one-year high of $781.50 an ounce, and was last trading up 1.1 percent at $777.40 an ounce.

Silver rose 1.3 percent to $21.44 an ounce.

(By Frank Tang and Clara Denina; Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by David Evans, Keiron Henderson and Chizu Nomiyama)