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Metals Stocks: Gold jumps to highest level in about 7 weeks on fresh tariff tensions

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Gold futures rose firmly on Friday as investors fled to the perceived safety of havens like precious metals amid fresh signs of escalation in tariff tensions between the U.S. and its global trade partners.

Gold for August delivery on Comex GCM19, +0.83% climbed $8.50, or 0.7%, to $1,300.50 an ounce, putting the metal on track for the highest finish for a most-active contract since April 10, FactSet data show.

The early gains put the metal on pace for a 1.4% weekly gain, and a 1.2% advance for the month.

July silver SIN19, +0.13% meanwhile, shed a penny, or 0.1%, to $14.480 an ounce, and was on pace for a weekly skid of 0.5% and a decline of 3.4% for May.

The moves for the metals come as President Donald Trump announced in a tweet that the U.S. would impose a 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico until that country stops the flow of illegal immigrants into the country. He said the tariffs will rise to 10% on July 1 if the crisis persists, and by another 5% for every successive month, up to 25% by Oct. 1.

The announcement comes amid reports from Chinese state-owned media threatening fresh retaliatory measures in Beijing’s tariff spat with the U.S. That action comes as data from the second-largest economy in the world showed manufacturing activity slipped into contraction. China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to 49.4, with any reading below 50 reflecting contracting conditions.

Worries about intensifying trade clashes have been a key support for gold prices over the past few weeks, driving demand for gold and government debt alike.

The exchanged-traded gold fund, the SPDR Gold Shares GLD, +0.68% has gained 0.3% for the week, with a 0.4% gain in sight for the month, as of Thursday’s close. However, the silver-focused iShares Silver Trust SLV, +0.59% was set for a 0.4% weekly decline and drop of 3% in the month to date over the same period.

“Today’s triple hit of bad news has proved too much for investors to stomach. US futures are tanking and gold has shot up, breaking through resistance at 1286 as it targets 1300. The market is starting to price in things getting worse before they get any better,” wrote Jasper Lawler, head of research, at London Capital Group, in a daily note.

Read: Is the threat of withholding rare-earth metals a key weapon in China’s trade war with U.S.?

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.17% and the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.21% were set to fall sharply on Friday, as investors exit assets considered risky in favor of so-called havens. In bonds, the yield on the 2-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, -1.85% dropped more than 7 basis points to 1.992%, dropping below the 2% threshold for the first time since February 2018, according to FactSet. The 10-year Treasury note yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -1.85%  tumbled 7.2 basis points to 2.151%, the lowest since September 2017. Bond prices rise as their yields fall.

Among other Comex-traded metals, July copper HGN19, -0.85%  fell by 0.&% to $2.633 a pound. July platinum PLN19, -0.29%  fell 0.2% to $792.50 an ounce, while the most-active September palladium contract PAU19, -0.35%  was little changed at $1,366 an ounce.

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