File Image: IOL

Gold's recent surge may have hit a speed bump.

Bullion posted its first loss of 2019 on Friday and the biggest in two weeks as stronger-than-expected US payrolls data crimped demand for the metal as a haven. The decline eroded gold’s weekly gain, which was the third straight.

The slide comes after bullion rose above $1300 (R18136) an ounce earlier for the first time since June as investors piled into the metal amid a slump in equities, a US government shutdown and mounting concerns over the outlook for global economic growth. Haven demand for bullion was also curbed Friday by the prospect of a thaw in US-China trade tensions.

The payrolls figures was a “monster number,” said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets. Gold futures for February delivery fell 0.7percent to settle at $1285.80 an ounce at 1.30pm on the Comex in New York, the biggest decline since December 21. The metal rose 0.2percent for the week.

With signs of a global slowdown stacking up amid the US-China trade war and softening factory activity, analysts said it’s to soon to write off gold’s rally. Gold pared losses of as much as 1.3percent after Federal Reserve chairperson Jerome Powell said policy is flexible and that officials are “listening carefully” to the financial markets, potentially laying the groundwork for a pause in the Fed’s campaign of gradual interest-rate hikes.

‘‘Overall, the data is still somewhat mixed,’’ Naeem Aslam, the chief market analyst at Think Markets UK, said in an email. 

 Bloomberg