Metals Stocks: Gold climbs back to a more than 6-year high as coronavirus worries feed haven demand

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Gold futures climbed on Thursday, setting prices on track to score their highest finish since April 2013, as renewed worries over the spread of the coronavirus contributed to demand for haven investments.

The April futures contract for gold GCJ20, +0.43%, which is now the most-active contract, rose $6.40, or 0.4%, to $1,582.30 an ounce. A settlement around this level would be the highest for a most-active contract since April 2013. March silver SIH20, +2.19%  also jumped 33.8 cents, or 1.9%, to $17.825 an ounce.

Chinese authorities on Thursday said more than 7,700 people have been infected, with at least 170 dead. World Health Organization officials expressed “great concern” over the virus’s spread outside of China. The WHO is scheduled to meet Thursday to weigh if the outbreak should be declared a global emergency.

“Concerns over the coronavirus continue to rise as the WHO is now considering an emergency pronouncement, and news headlines will continue to focus on further travel restrictions, which should continue to support gold as will the news of temporary store and factory shutdowns,” said Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp, in a note.

“The closure will eventually have a real and discernible negative impact on the next on China production and consumption data and could impact the global scrim, given how critical China factory is to the overall global supply chain,” he said.

George Gero, managing director at RBC Wealth Management, pointed out that while past epidemics such as SARS and the Zika virus “all passed eventually,” they did leave “some economic challenges for some time.”

Gold held on to gains after the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at a faster-than-expected 2.1% annualized clip in the fourth quarter. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast 1.9% growth.

In other metals trade, March palladium PAH20, +0.26%  was up 0.4% at $2,211.50 an ounce, while April platinum PLJ20, +0.14%  edged up 0.6% to $981.20 an ounce.

March copper HGH20, -0.92%  was off 0.8% at $2.5325 a pound.

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