(Bloomberg) — Gold held an advance as a drop in U.S. consumer sentiment and concerns over the highly contagious delta virus strain stoked demand for the haven asset

Caution returned to global markets after data Friday showed U.S. consumer sentiment fell in early August to the lowest in nearly a decade as Americans grew more concerned about the economy’s prospects, inflation and the recent surge in Covid-19 cases. New variants like delta are moving the bar for herd immunity to near impossibly high levels, while countries are also grappling with vaccine hesitancy and supply issues.

Bullion has clawed back some ground after better-than-expected U.S. data sent prices tumbling on bets the Federal Reserve may start paring back massive monetary stimulus soon. This week, investors will parse through a speech by Chair Jerome Powell, as well as minutes of the Fed’s latest meeting, for more clues about the likely timeline for tapering. Figures for U.S. retail sales are due Tuesday.

Traders will likely focus on the U.S. retail sales numbers to gauge the strength of the country’s recovery, said John Feeney, business development manager at Sydney-based bullion dealer Guardian Gold Australia. “Gold has also now recovered above the level of last Monday’s open, before the flash crash event, so we expect the low of Aug. 9 to be a significant medium term bottom for the gold market.”

Spot gold was little changed at $1,779.89 an ounce at 9:48 a.m. in Singapore after rising 1.5% on Friday. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index steadied after a 0.5% drop in the previous session. Silver was steady, while platinum and palladium declined.

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