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Precious metals shine
15-Jun-18   10:06 Hrs IST

Bullion prices ended higher at Comex on Thursday, 14 June 2018. Gold futures gained Thursday, scoring the highest finish in a month for a most-active contract in the wake of monetary policy decisions by the European Central Bank and U.S. Federal Reserve.

August gold climbed by $7, or 0.5%, to settle at $1,308.30 an ounce. July silver added 1.6% to $17.262 an ounce.

The leading dollar index, which typically moves inversely to gold, also gained, after spending the early part of the day in the red. Forex investors assessed the European Central Bank's plan to end in December its post-crisis bond-buying program, which has for years helped prop up an economic recovery that officials increasingly believe can now stand on its own.

The Fed on Wednesday, meanwhile, indicated that it will likely raise interest rates more aggressively in 2018 than previously signaled. Its decision came after regular trading in gold futures had ended. Higher interest rates lift the appeal of holding dollars. That also means that a stronger dollar cuts the worth of holding non-yielding gold that's priced in this denomination.

For its part, the Fed voted Wednesday to raise its benchmark federal-funds rate by a quarter-percentage point to a range of 1.75% and 2%. The central bank also said it expects to raise rates four times this year, up from a forecast of three in March. See the live blog/recap and video of the event here.

A flurry of economic reports early Thursday, including sizzling retail sales, largely backed the Fed's stance. May retail sales rose 0.8% (consensus +0.4%), while the April increase was revised to 0.4% from 0.3%. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.9% in May (consensus +0.5%), and the April increase was revised to 0.4% from 0.3%. The key takeaway from the report is that consumer spending on goods was strong in May, which will feed expectations for a healthy pickup in second quarter GDP growth.

The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 218,000, while the consensus expected a reading of 223,000. Today's tally was below the unrevised prior week count of 222,000. As for continuing claims, they declined to 1.697 million from a revised count of 1.746 million (from 1.741 million). The key takeaway from the report is the same as last week: the low level of initial and continuing jobless claims is consistent with a tight labor market.

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