Gold futures rose Tuesday after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark overnight interest rate to a record low of 0.25%, as the Fed’s bond-buying program to stimulate the economy continues to support growth.
Gold prices have risen nearly 7% this year, compared with a 3.3% gain for the broader S&P 500 index, and have risen in a range of areas, including commodities and utilities.
The Fed’s rate hike was the latest indication of a more accommodative stance by the central bank, which is expected to begin raising interest rates this month.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday that she had “seen and heard” reports that inflation expectations are low and that the unemployment rate has risen over the past month to its highest level since the financial crisis.
But she did not provide any specific data on that.
She also said the labor market is improving, that inflation is stable and that inflation pressures will not exceed the inflation rate.
“The economic outlook is solid, and inflation is consistent with recent increases,” Yellen told reporters.
“We are optimistic about the outlook for inflation, and are encouraged by the progress made in the labor markets.”
She added: “I am confident that we can meet the challenges ahead of us and continue to build on the progress we have made over the last six years.”
Gold prices rose to a six-year high Tuesday, rising more than 9% on the day, after the Fed raised its rate to 0.5% from 0.4%.
It was the highest-ever overnight close to $1,300 an ounce, and the benchmark was last above $1,,400.
Yellen said the Fed is expected on Wednesday to hold a meeting with members of the Federal Open Market Committee.
“We’re pleased to be back in Washington for another round of meetings with the FOMC, and I am optimistic about how they will address our economy’s challenges,” Yellnett said.
Yellnell noted that the Fed has made the “bold” decision to begin the rate increase program with an interest rate that is lower than it would be under normal conditions, and that its actions to lower the central banks interest rate were intended to stimulate economic activity.
“With inflation expected to continue to fall, and with inflation pressures being well below their level in recent months, the Federal Funds rate is unlikely to rise to its full 2% level by the end of the year,” she said.
“As the economic outlook improves and inflation expectations rise, we expect inflation to return to the Fed Funds rate level, and we expect the Federal funds rate to stay near its long-term average over the next several years.”