Gold for February delivery closed up $9.10 at $1,749.50 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price has traded as high as $1,754 and as low as $1,735.40 an ounce while the spot price was adding $9, according to Kitco's gold index.
Gold prices were adding to their January gains Wednesday as the dollar fell against the euro. The Automatic Data Processing employment report showed that the private sector added just 170,000 jobs in January, which was less than expected, and revised December's whopping 325,000 private job gain down to 292,000. The lackluster reading underscored the Federal Reserve's commitment to keep rates low until the end of 2014. Extended low rates have been a catalyst for gold.
Based on Deutsche Bank's estimates, the Fed won't look to tighten monetary policy until the unemployment rate is at least 7.6% or lower. The firm, however, does think the rate could fall more quickly than expected which would force the Fed's hand. "Over the past four months, the unemployment rate has declined 0.6%," said Deutsche Bank in a recent note. "This has only happened 7 times before, and over the ensuing 12 months the unemployment rate on average has fallen by another 0.8%." The firm says policy makers could be in for a big surprise. Martin Murenbeeld, chief economist at Dundee Wealth, thinks the Fed will stick to its long term rate forecast as he sees no big strength in the U.S. economy. "I don't see restrictive monetary policy," he says also speculating the Fed would do another quantitative easing program, or QE. "If there is an implosion in the banking sector in Europe, the Fed is going to put money into the system to make sure U.S. banks are secure." Murenbeeld also thinks the Fed might take additional steps to prop up the housing market especially if Washington follows suit. Although the Fed has increased the M2 supply -- money in circulation plus savings, checking and travelers checks -- by $2 trillion since the start of 2008, the money hasn't really made it into circulation, resulting in weak inflation. Murenbeeld says however that asset prices have seen inflation and that gold is "agnostic in terms of where inflation is."