Gold rises on bleak economic outlook, softer dollar

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Asian stocks were headed for harm on Friday after the European Central Bank slashed its growth forecasts and launched an emergency round of policy stimulus, leaving investors fearing the worst for the global economy.

He wrote that the "great hope" had been that after "prolonged period of unconventional monetary policies (which nearly by definition, don't offer sustainable solutions but merely buy time at the risk of collateral damage and unintended adverse consequences)" the central banks would be able to hand over to governments.

While the timing of the lunar new year made it hard to draw a true signal from the China data noise, the scale was alarming, especially when coupled with sombre new data from Germany and Norway. Economists had expected exports to drop 4.8%.

The S&P 500 closed near a four-week low. Officials said they'll freeze the interest rate this year while also offering banks cheaper loans to prompt more lending to businesses.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased 0.3 percent, the first retreat in more than a week.

In China on Friday, dollar-denominated February exports fell 21 percent from a year earlier. "We were not expecting something so clear, so soon, and markets were not either, so bond yields are likely to stay low for longer".

Yields on German and French 10-year bonds dived to their lowest since 2016, while banking stocks took a beating.

The downbeat employment data pressured Wall Street benchmarks and the US dollar on Friday, which in turn boosted demand for the safe-haven asset gold.

It also threw a spanner in the works for investors in the region particularly Shanghai who had been chasing a rally fuelled by optimism that China and the United States will hammer out a deal to end their trade war. There was also a chance the jobless rate could fall by more than forecast given the recent strength in employment.

The dollar index was down 0.2%, having hit a near three-month peak in the previous session after the European Central Bank postponed an interest rate hike until 2020.

The numbers are still likely to highlight the relative outperformance of the US economy, especially against the European Union, and further encourage dollar bulls.

European Central Bank also lowered its inflation projection to 1.2 percent, well below its target rate of just below 2 percent.

Spot gold rose 0.6% to $1,292.52 USA per ounce, while US gold futures gained 0.5% to $1,292.90 U.S. So far, oil demand has remained steady, where imports of crude oil remained above 10 million barrels per day (bpd).

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