Gold jumped as the spread of the coronavirus globally spurred demand for haven assets.
Prices rose as much as 1.1% as risk-off sentiment swept markets, with equities tumbling and Treasures gaining. In the latest effort to contain the virus, China extended the week-long Lunar New Year holiday and banned all outgoing overseas group tours to avoid having travelers contribute to its spread.
While the return of risk aversion is supportive of haven assets like bullion, investors are also assessing the extent to which the virus may keep consumers away from shops, damping the usual pick up in gold purchases during the holiday period.
Contracts on the S&P 500 Index fell 1% and Japan’s Topix dropped almost 2%, while oil slumped more than 3%. Ten-year Treasury yields sank and the yen strengthened.
“Markets are focused on news around the deadly coronavirus,” Bank of New Zealand said in a report. “There will clearly be a significant economic impact, centered in China. A key question is the time it will take for the virus to be contained and one can only speculate at this stage.”