Gold prices this week have continued 2014's climb, with a boost today from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
In morning trading Thursday, April gold rose $7, or 0.6%, at $1,335. Spot gold was flat at $1,330.20.
Early this week, the yellow metal hit a four-month high of $1,339.09 an ounce.
Gold inched higher today after Yellen mentioned today in testimony to Congress that there's been some recent weaker U.S. economic data. Traders took that to mean the central bank might be less aggressive in winding down its quantitative easing program.
The impact of the Fed's decisions to scale back its bond-buying program, which has been a catalyst for gold, has put many precious metals traders on hold for months. Gold responded to mere rumblings of a Fed taper last year with big drops. Indeed, the yellow metal lost 28% in 2013, logging its first annual loss in 13 years.
But gold has steadied after that plunge.
Up $140 an ounce since the start of the year and on pace for its second month of solid gains, gold is easily outshining year-to-date performances of the three major benchmarks. Year to date, gold prices are up a stellar 11%. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 2.3%, the S&P 500 Index is off 0.2% and the Nasdaq is up a modest 2.8%.
International private bank Coutts recently said gold is the best performing asset class of 2014 so far.
And it's not just the Fed driving gold prices higher this week.
Gold Price Drivers This Week
Driving gold prices Thursday were continued doubts about the state and the pace of the U.S. economic recovery. A string of soft economic data, from retail sales to manufacturing to an uptick in weekly jobless claims, rekindled interest in the alternative asset.
Thursday's Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's National Index for January, which measures the country's economic activity, came in at minus 0.39. Analysts were looking for minus 0.2. A below zero reading is indicative of below-trend growth.