Gold prices closed higher Friday, as did silver prices, after the U.S. government revealed that no new jobs were created last month, a body blow to stocks but a gift to investors who bought Treasuries or precious metals.
Economists were expecting employers to add between 70,000 and 90,000 jobs in August, a number that would have left the nation's unemployment rate at 9.1 percent. But instead the world's biggest economy added zero nonfarm jobs. In July, at least, employers had added 85,000 jobs.
Net employment flatlined in August, Ellen Zentner, a senior U.S. economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York, who forecast a decline of 5,000, told Bloomberg. When the outlook is uncertain, businesses don't hire. Calls that we're on the cusp of a recession or already there are not completely unwarranted.
The news stunned markets, extending losses on stock index futures and boosting precious metals. Gold is considered a safe investment in uncertain times, but many investors also are simply looking to gold for a quick profit as it prices continues to rise.
Gold for December delivery, the most actively traded contract on the CME Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, surged 2.6 percent to $1,876.90 per troy ounce. Gold for immediate delivery rose to $1,880.36.
Silver on the Comex division vaulted 3.6 percent to $43.07. For immediate delivery, rose to $43.32.