Gold at four-month high as tensions escalate in the Middle East

Gold and silver are considered safe haven assets in times of volatility

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Gold rose to a four-month high after a US airstrike killed one of Iran’s most powerful generals, ratcheting up tensions in the Middle East.

Spot bullion climbed 0.9 per cent to $1,542.47 an ounce. Silver rallied 1.3 per cent, while platinum and palladium also advanced. The yen strengthened 0.6 per cent and oil jumped close to $70 per barrel.

The strike in Baghdad ordered by President Donald Trump killed Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian general who led the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed “severe retaliation.”

“The likelihood of further reactions cannot be ruled out, which may keep gold supported in the near term,” Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG Asia Pte in Singapore, said in an email.

Bullion is building on a 2019 rally as the dollar weakens and geopolitical concerns return. Prices rose 18 per cent last year, the biggest annual advance since 2010.

Last year’s advance marked a positive shift in investor attitude toward gold, according to RBC Capital Markets, which predicted further gains this year and next. Goldman Sachs Group, Citigroup, and UBS Group have said they’re looking for $1,600 an ounce.

January is historically gold’s best month, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. If prices match the average January advance of 2.7 per cent over the past 20 years, they’ll surpass the six-year high reached in September. The metal will approach $1,600 by February if it matches the 5.2 per cent average increase of the past five years.

Next up for investors is the latest reading on the health of the world’s biggest economy, with US. ISM manufacturing data and minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy-setting meeting due later on Friday.