By Debarati Roy and Nicholas Larkin
Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) — Gold futures headed for the biggest gain in 10 weeks on increased demand from investors after reports that Iran produced its first nuclear fuel rod and as the dollar weakened. Silver also gained.
A domestically-made rod was inserted into the core of Tehran’s atomic research reactor after performance tests, the Iranian Students News Agency reported yesterday. The dollar fell against the euro on signs that manufacturing is expanding in the U.S. and China. Blackstone Group LP’s Byron Wien, who had correctly predicted last year’s gain in gold, said bullion will rally 15 percent in 2012 to $1,800 an ounce.
“Fear trade is back because of Iran,” Adam Klopfenstein, a market strategist at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Also, we are seeing buying across commodities because of the weaker dollar.”
Gold futures for February delivery climbed 2.3 percent to $1,603.40 an ounce at 12:40 p.m. on the Comex in New York, heading for the biggest gain since Oct. 25. While prices rallied 10 percent last year, the 11th straight annual advance, the metal slumped 10 percent in December and touched $1,523.90 on Dec. 29, the lowest since July 7.
“Accommodative monetary policies throughout the developed world cause a renewed migration to hard assets by individual investors and sovereign-wealth funds,” Wien wrote in a report today.
Hedge funds and other money managers cut bets on higher prices for gold futures by 4.5 percent to 111,919 contracts in the week ended Dec. 27, the lowest level since January 2009, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.
“Improved physical interest is likely to provide good support,” James Moore, an analyst at TheBullionDesk.com in London, wrote today in a report. The drop in speculators’ positions on the Comex is “suggesting plenty of upside price potential once sentiment improves,” he said.
Silver futures for March delivery jumped 5.8 percent to $29.53 an ounce on the Comex, heading for the biggest gain since Nov. 22. Silver will rise to $40, Wien said.