Gold futures shot higher late in Friday's session, which analysts linked to chart-based buying in thin trading conditions on a day sandwiched between Christmas and a weekend. The metals were near steady to slightly higher for much of the session. Then, with a little more than half an hour left, gold suddenly accelerated to the upside.
"I think we probably had some thin market buying and crashed into some stops," said Sterling Smith, vice president with FuturesOne.
February gold rose $23.20 to $871.20 an ounce on the Comex division of Nymex. It accelerated after moving above the $850 area. The metal had stopped just below $850 the prior two trading days and not far above $850 the two days before that. Then it soared from around $850 to a session high of $872.80 in roughly 15 minutes. The contract later went on to an $874 peak.