A man holds necklaces in a gold shop in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand. Picture: REUTERS/SOE ZEYA TUN
A man holds necklaces in a gold shop in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand. Picture: REUTERS/SOE ZEYA TUN

Bengaluru — Gold edged lower on Friday as investors booked profits, but was set for its best week since December 2008 as record high US jobless claims due to the coronavirus fuelled hopes for more stimulus to stem the economic damage caused by the epidemic.

Autocatalysts platinum and palladium, meanwhile, were poised for their biggest weekly gains on record, as a lockdown in producer SA stoked supply concerns.

Spot gold fell 0.4% to $1,622.65/oz by 3.12am GMT after five straight sessions of gains. US gold futures slipped 0.7% to $1,640.00/oz.

Bullion has gained 8.2% so far this week, supported by weak US unemployment data and the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented economic stimulus measures.

“I don’t see any real reason to sell gold at the moment other than perhaps to book profits before the weekend,” said Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at financial services firm AxiCorp. “Everything still looks good for gold except the dreaded need for distress sales.”

The US House of Representatives Speaker said she expected the chamber to pass an estimated $2.2-trillion virus relief bill when it meets on Friday, after the Senate’s approval on Wednesday.

Asian stocks rose as investors wagered policymakers will roll out additional stimulus measures to combat the pandemic after US unemployment filings surged to a record 3.28-million last week. The data was supportive for gold as it fuelled expectations for more fiscal measures, more quantitative easing and more action by the Fed, said Avtar Sandu, a senior commodities manager at Phillip Futures.

The Fed’s total balance sheet size exploded by more than half a trillion dollars in a single week, about twice the pace of the next largest weekly expansion during the 2008 financial crisis. Meanwhile, leaders of the Group of 20 major economies pledged on Thursday to inject more than $5-trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses.

Gold market participants also kept a close eye on physical supply as virus-led lockdowns stalled supply chains. China’s net gold imports via Hong Kong halved in February from the previous month, as the outbreak slowed activity.

Palladium slipped 1.2% to $2,303.75/oz but rose 40% for the week, while platinum fell 0.2% to $734.57/oz but added more than 20% in the week. Silver rose 1.2% to $14.55/oz, heading for its best week since 2008.

Reuters