The dollar fell against a basket of currencies after data showed U.S. job growth was less than expected in August and the unemployment rate dropped to a 4-1/2 year low as workers gave up their job search.
That has tempered expectations the U.S. recovery is strong enough to allow the Fed to taper asset purchases as soon as this month. The central bank holds a two-day policy meeting on Sept. 17-18.
Gold leapt nearly 2 percent to a high of $1,392.46 an ounce in the immediate wake of the data, and was up 1.5 percent at $1,387.66 at 1252 GMT. Earlier it hit a low of $1,362.55, its weakest since August 22.
“The immediate response of gold and the other precious metals to today’s NFP data has been predictable,” Mitsui Precious Metals analyst David Jollie said. “They were worse than expected, and this suggests that tapering of America’s quantitative easing programme could be further into the future than had previously been expected.”
“As a result, precious metal prices have rallied on expectations of a little further QE, relatively loose monetary policy and potential for longer term QE-derived inflation.” U.S. gold futures for December stood at $1,388.20 an ounce, up $15.20.
The Fed’s stimulus has been a major driver of gold’s rally of recent years, as the metal benefitted from increased central bank’s liquidity and a low interest rate environment.
But expectations that this could soon come to an end contributed to gold’s 17 percent fall this year. Gold rose to a 3-1/2 month high of $1,433.31 an ounce in late August on safe-having buying after the United States and its allies looked close to launching an imminent military strike on Syria.
But prices retreated after Britains’s parliament voted against any involvement and President Obama decided to seek congressional approval, while facing increasing pressure from Russia’s Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.