WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Gold futures ended sharply higher on Monday, extending gains from the previous session, with investors seeking the safe haven of the precious metal on concerns over the Greek crisis and fears of a global economic slowdown following crude oil's extraordinary plunge to new depths.
The precious metal continued to benefit with the euro at a near nine-year low against the dollar, amid worries that Greece may be on the verge of an exit from the eurozone following the general elections on January 25.
Observers believe the elections in Greece would most likely go in favor of the leftist party - Syriza led by Alexis Tsipras that is strongly opposed to the austerity measures taken by the government on cue from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Gold for February delivery, the most actively traded contract, surged $17.80 or 1.5 percent to settle at $2,204.00 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday.
Gold for February delivery scaled an intraday high of $1,204.40 and a low of $1,177.80 an ounce.
On Friday, gold prices ended at $1,186.20 an ounce, up $2.10 or 0.2 percent, on some soft economic data from the U.S. despite the dollar trending higher against a select band of currencies.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, remained unchanged at 709.02 tons on Monday, from its previous close.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 91.53 on Monday, up from its previous close of 91.45 late Friday in North American trade. The dollar scaled a high of 91.78 intraday and a low of 91.23.
The euro trended lower against the dollar at $1.1937 on Monday, as compared to its previous close of $1.2002 late Friday in North American trade. The euro scaled a high of $1.2003 intraday and a low of $1.1889.
Eurozone investor confidence unexpectedly rose for a third straight month, moving into the positive territory led by Germany, data from Sentix showed Monday. The investor confidence index climbed to 0.9 from -2.5 in December. Economists had forecast an improvement in the measure to -1.
Germany's inflation slowed more-than-expected in December, preliminary figures from Destatis showed Monday. The harmonized index of consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent annually following a 0.5 percent gain in the previous month. Economists expected the index to increase 0.2 percent. This was the lowest reading since October 2009, when prices fell 0.1 percent.
Elsewhere in Europe, the strength of recovery in the U.K. construction sector moderated to its lowest since July 2013, data from Markit Economics showed Monday. The Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply Purchasing Managers' Index for the construction sector fell more-than-expected to 57.6 in December from 59.4 in November. The score was forecast to fall to 59 in December.
Traders will get a better handle on the outlook for commodities this week amid the release of a slew of first-tier economic data. December's jobs report, the results of the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing survey for December, the minutes of December 17th FOMC meeting and some Fed speeches are on the calendar.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX