Picture: BLOOMBERG/KIYOSHI OTA
Picture: BLOOMBERG/KIYOSHI OTA

LONDON — Gold rose by nearly 1% on Monday, boosted by lower shares and a softer dollar, leaving the metal well placed to log its best monthly performance in four years as turmoil in wider markets increased its safe-haven appeal.

Spot gold rose to a session high of $1,235.40 an ounce and was up 1% at $1,234.63 by 3.10pm GMT. Gold gained 10% in February, its biggest monthly jump since January 2012.

"This has started as a rocky year for global markets and while some countries are moving into negative rates, the outlook for US interest rates hikes is not as positive," Natixis analyst Bernard Dahdah said.

Bullion has rallied about 15% this year, rediscovering its role as a shelter for risk-averse investors in the face of tumbling equities and fears of a global economic slowdown.

Prices hit a one-year high of $1,260.60 this month, further supported by the repricing of expectations for US interest rate rises.

"Coming into March, technical indicators look fairly solid and the ETF movements look quite supportive," said Mitsubishi strategist Jonathan Butler.

"On the macroeconomic side, however, next week we are going to have the ECB announcement of possible further quantitative easing, which is going to weigh on the euro against the dollar and all commodities should come under pressure again."

The European Central Bank (ECB) will hold a monetary policy meeting on March 10.

President Mario Draghi has said that the bank would review and possibly recalibrate its stance to fight persistently low inflation. Markets are now pricing in at least two rate cuts.

European and US shares fell after a weekend meeting of the Group of 20 (G-20) group of leading economies failed to strike new measures to boost growth.

The dollar fell against the Japanese yen after weaker than expected US manufacturing data.

Hedge funds and money managers raised their bullish stance in COMEX gold to a one-year high in the week to February 23, data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Friday.

Assets in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s top gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose to 762.41 tonnes on Friday, the highest in about a year.

Gold prices on the Shanghai Gold Exchange were at a premium of about $2 an ounce, indicating buying interest from top consumer China.

Physical demand in India, however, remained subdued last week, with the market falling to record discounts as consumers postponed purchases on expectations of a cut in import tax when the government presents its annual budget on Monday.

Among other precious metals, platinum rose 1.1% to $923.29 an ounce, while silver gained 0.6% to $14.80 and palladium climbed 2% to $491.05.

Reuters