By Amrith Ramkumar and David Hodari
Movement in the dollar continued impacting gold prices Thursday, with the precious metal extending Wednesday's gains as the U.S. currency fell.
Front-month gold for January delivery rose 0.2% to $1,320.60 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have risen to their highest level since September and stayed above $1,300 recently, boosted in large part by a weaker dollar.
A falling dollar makes gold and other dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for overseas buyers. On Thursday, the WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, fell 0.5%.
Thursday's move came after data was released showing U.S. producer prices fell in December for the first time in more than a year, suggesting inflation remains subdued despite a steady economy. Tepid inflation has puzzled economists and investors trying to gauge how aggressive the Federal Reserve will be with interest-rate increases moving forward. Many will be closely looking at Friday's consumer-price data for the latest inflation signal.
Gold struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets like Treasurys as borrowing costs rise. Some analysts have said an expected pickup in economic data could give the Fed a freer hand to raise interest rates more aggressively this year. However, others think surprisingly higher consumer prices could actually boost gold, which is used by many investors as a hedge against inflation.
"We are seeing inflation remain tame, but it's rising. That fits the bill that the Fed will likely keep a steady as she goes approach and remain data dependent," said Maxwell Gold, director of investment strategy at ETF Securities. "It's not overly bullish news for gold, but it's not negative, either," he said.
Among base metals, front-month copper for January delivery swung between small gains and losses and closed down less than 0.1% at $3.2135 a pound. A favorable global economic backdrop has pushed the industrial metal near four-year highs recently, with supply disruptions also boosting prices. Still, some analysts have wondered whether the rally has gotten ahead of supply-demand fundamentals given the amount of aboveground stocks that could boost supply.
Write to Amrith Ramkumar at firstname.lastname@example.org and David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com