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Gold price to take direction from Powell's testimony, U.S. jobs report next week

Kitco News

(Kitco News) After five consecutive weeks of losses, the gold market posted its first weekly gain. Analysts say the precious metal will now take direction from the upcoming Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's testimony and the February employment report.

After testing the lows at $1,810 an ounce, gold bounced back to the mid-$1,800s range. At the time of writing, April Comex gold futures were at $1,852.70 an ounce, up $35 on the week.

"I am impressed with how gold performed, especially when you look at yields, with the 10-years above 4%," OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya told Kitco News. "It will be pretty wild next week because of the hawkish Powell testimony and U.S. payrolls data. We might see some gold weakness initially, but then some strength after payrolls."

On Tuesday, Powell will testify on the U.S. central bank's semiannual monetary policy report to the Senate Banking Committee. This will be followed by his testimony on the same topics to the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

Markets will also digest the latest U.S. nonfarm payrolls report from February, with consensus calls projecting 200,000 new positions and the unemployment rate remaining at 3.4%.

"The February employment report and Fed Chair Jerome Powell's testimony to Congress next week should give a clearer indication of whether recent talk of interest rates going 'higher for longer' is justified," said Capital Economics' deputy chief U.S. economist Andrew Hunter.

Powell is likely to remain aggressive in his language, Moya noted. "He can't change that right now. It could weigh gold down in the first half of the week," he said. "The message 'higher for longer' will be firmly implemented."

One development that could move gold prices higher is the downward revision to January's strong employment report.

"We might have a significant downward revision. January's 517,000 positions could get revised. We're likely to see a sharper slowdown in hiring. The February number could also come in below the consensus," Moya said.

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

Gold's strong rally at the start of the year was reversed when the markets received the January employment news, RJO Futures senior market strategist Frank Cholly told Kitco News.

"Strong employment report was followed up with inflationary news — CPI, PPI, and retail sales," Cholly added. "All this data indicated that the Fed has to continue to raise rates, and gold fell."

The gold market continued to trend downward until it hit the $1,810s level, which coincided with the metal's 200-day moving average, Cholly pointed out. At that point, gold got a bounce.

"The market might do some consolidation here and wait for direction. But we probably found a bottom. There is value in gold between the $1,800-$1,825 range," Cholly noted.

Once gold can close above $1,860, more buying would kick in. And above $1,880 an ounce, Cholly sees the $1,900 level at play again.

"It will depend on how the data comes out over the next two weeks. The employment number and then the CPI and PPI the week after that. If we continue to see that the Fed will have to be aggressive with rate hikes, gold will re-test last week's lows," he said.

Moya added that gold's resistance is $1,880, and support is $1,820 an ounce.

In the short-term, gold remains very data-depended — just like the Fed. "It was all about payrolls last month. This time, the nonfarm payrolls, the CPI, and PPI will also be critical for the direction of interest rates and precious metals. If we are getting such good yields on fixed incomes, it is hard for gold to move higher," Cholly stated.

Next week's data

Monday: U.S. factory orders

Tuesday: Fed Chair Powell testifies

Wednesday: ADP nonfarm employment, Fed Chair Powell testifies, BoC rate decision

Thursday: U.S. jobless claims,

Friday: U.S. nonfarm payrolls

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