- Spot gold fell back to the $1800 level in recent trade after stronger than expected US labour market data.
- The strong NFP number, hot wage growth and rise in participation rate spurred a fresh build-up of Fed tightening bets.
Spot gold (XAU/USD) prices lurched back to the $1800 level in recent trade in wake of the latest much stronger than anticipated US labour market figures for January. Prior to the data, the precious metal had been trading closer to $1815 and with tentative on the day gains. Now, XAU/USD trades about 0.3% lower on the session as it undulates either side of the $1800 mark. Bears will be eyeing a test of Thursday’s post-hawkish BoE/ECB lows in the $1788 area, a break below which could open the door to an extension of technical selling that could push spot gold prices back towards weekly lows in the $1780 area.
The strong US labour market report saw a blowout headline NFP gain and hot wage growth, as well as the estimate as to the size of the US labour force increase by about 1.5M, spurring a surge in Fed tightening bets. Unsurprisingly, this sent US yields and the buck higher in a kneejerk response, weighing on the XAU/USD, which has a strong negative correlation to both. US money markets have upped their bets that the Fed hikes rates by 50bps in March to an implied 23% (from 14.3% on Thursday). Higher interest rates dim the appeal of non-yielding precious metals.
As gold traders assess this week in its entirety, hawkishness/central bank tightening will be top of mind, following hawkish surprises from the BoE and ECB on Thursday and now in wake of the latest US jobs report. A shift towards higher interest rates/more hawkish central banks is not typically an environment that bodes well for gold in the long-term, so the precious metal may struggle to find dip-buyers in the $1800 area. Attention now shifts to next week’s US Consumer Price Inflation data which, if hotter than expected, may also spur a fresh build-up of Fed tightening bets next week, suggesting further downside risks for XAU/USD.