Mideast turmoil pushes safe-haven gold to second weekly rise

By Ashitha Shivaprasad

(Reuters) – Gold extended gains on Friday and headed for a second consecutive weekly gain, as fears of a further escalation in the Middle East conflict fed bullion’s safe-haven appeal.

Spot gold was up 0.3% at $1,979.39 per ounce by 3:04 p.m. ET (1904 GMT), after hitting its highest since May earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures settled 0.7% higher at $1,994.40.

Israel levelled a northern Gaza district after giving families a half-hour warning to escape, and hit an Orthodox Christian church where others had been sheltering, as it made clear that a command to invade Gaza was expected soon.

“People fluttered into gold and found a sense of safety amid geo-political risks. If there is an escalation in the Middle East conflict, gold prices will push through $2,000,” said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago.

Gold has risen 2.5% this week, and added nearly $160 since the onset of the conflict.

On the technical front, “failure to trigger a long overdue consolidation and correction back down towards $1,946 could see prices move higher to eventually challenge resistance around $2,075, the nominal record high from 2020,” Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, wrote in a note.

Traders also digested comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday, who left open the possible need for more rate hikes – which would increase the opportunity cost of holding zero-yield bullion – but also noted emerging risks and a need to move with care.

In physical markets, gold dealers in India were forced to offer steeper discounts as a jump in domestic prices slowed demand ahead of a key festival. [GOL/AS]

Silver rose 1.4% to $23.35 per ounce, platinum gained 0.7% to $896.47. Both were set for their second consecutive weekly rise.

Palladium rose 0.9% to $1,104.18, but headed for its fourth straight weekly decline.

(Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Shailesh Kuber)