The kings of precious metals, gold and palladium, are both vying for world attention with major price milestones achieved from global growth fears and a Russian export ban, respectively.
U.S. gold futures, as well as globally-traded bullion, moved above the key $1,300 perch on Friday after official suggestions of more downward pressure on China's economy and weakening in U.S. employment trends and New York State manufacturing data.
Palladium, meanwhile, surged after news that Russia was considering a temporary ban on the export of precious metals scrap fed into fears of a supply shortfall this year.
gold futures for April delivery settled up $7.80, or 0.6%, at $1,302.90 per ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. It hit a two-week peak of $1,310.35 on Thursday.
Spot gold, reflective of trades in physical bullion, was up $6.19, or 0.5%, to $1,302.35 by 2:05 PM ET (18:05 GMT).
"We see the price of gold back above $1,300, sparked by a weaker-than-expected Empire State manufacturing survey," Walter Pehowich, executive vice-president at Dillon Gage Metals in Addison, Texas, said in his daily note, referring to the drop in the New York state manufacturing gauge to below 10 for the third consecutive month in March.
"The yellow metal is teetering at the previous resistance level of $1,304," Pehowich wrote. "This seems to be an important level as the market either accelerates or declines, depending on (whether) the trend is up or down from this level."
Comments from China’s Premier suggesting downward pressure for the world’s second largest economy, and The Bank of Japan's reduced assessment on overseas economies further bolstered gold.
Investors also turned to the safety offered by bullion after the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week amid a higher-drop-than-expected in new home sales in January.
The weaker dollar was another factor helping gold.
The Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, slid 0.2 % to 96.59 by 2:05 PM ET (18:05 GMT), falling for the fifth time in six sessions.
Palladium rose for a fourth-straight day, reaffirming its standing as the world's costliest metal, after Russia’s trade and industry ministry said it was considering a ban on the export of precious metals scrap and tailings between May 1 and Oct. 31 to promote domestic refining of the materials. The ban, if enacted, would not apply to exports of ores or concentrates.
The spot price of palladium rose by $5.25, or 0.3%, to 1,557.35 per ounce by 2:05 PM ET (18:05 GMT).
Trades in other Comex metals as of 2:05 PM ET (18:05 GMT):
Palladium futures up $3.90, or 0.3%, at $1,518.50 per ounce.
Platinum futures up $4.35, or 0.5%, at $831.45 per ounce.
Silver futures up 15 cents, or 1%, at $15.32 per ounce.
Copper futures up 2 cents, or 0.6%, at $2.91 per pound.