Gold futures jump most in a week as U.S payrolls trail forecast

Gold gained the most in a week after payrolls in the U.S. climbed less than projected, increasing speculation that the Federal Reserve will slow the pace of tapering to boost the economy. Silver also jumped.

The 74,000 gain in payrolls in December, less than the most pessimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey, followed a revised 241,000 advance the prior month, Labor Department figures showed today. The Fed said Dec. 18 that it will reduce its monthly bond purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion, citing improvements in the labor market.

“The growth concerns are back, and we are seeing a flight to safety,” Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The chatter about the Fed having to postpone tapering is back.”

Gold futures for February delivery rose 0.9 percent to $1,240.20 at 9:11 a.m. on the Comex in New York. A close at that price would mark the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Jan. 3. The metal earlier fell as much as 0.2 percent.

The Fed minutes released Jan. 8 didn’t describe a detailed schedule for asset-purchase reductions. The central bank will “continue to do, probably at each meeting, a measured reduction” in the pace of purchases, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said last month.

Silver futures for March delivery gained 1.9 percent to $20.065 an ounce on the Comex, heading for the biggest gain since Jan. 2.

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