London: For most commodity investors, January was one more bad month in a years-long bear market. Gold was an exception.

Gold futures rallied 5.3 per cent in January, the best gain in a year. The returns were far better in mining stocks, with an index of South African producers jumping 35 per cent for the month, the most since at least 1995.

Turmoil in Chinese financial markets, plunging oil prices and signs of softening US growth left investors reeling in January, boosting demand for traditional safe-haven assets like gold. Rising bets that the Federal Reserve will hold off on further interest-rate increases added to the appeal of bullion. While losses deepened in other metals, gold outperformed and holdings in exchange-traded funds backed by the metal rose to the highest since November.

“Interest-rate jitters going forward are what brought gold up,” James Cordier, the founder of in Tampa, Florida, said in a telephone interview. “With stock markets crashing all over the world and the US economy growing slowly, nothing is pointing to more rate hikes, and that’s why gold is rallying.”

Gold futures for April delivery rose less than 0.1 per cent to settle at $1,116.40 an ounce at 1:48pm on the Comex. The gain for the month was the biggest since January 2015.

Higher rates reduce the appeal of precious metals, which don’t pay interest or offer returns, unlike competing assets.

Gold stocks were propelled higher during January, especially in South Africa as the weaker rand boosted profit margins. Harmony Gold Mining Co. soared 87 per cent, recovering from the lowest levels in two decades.

* This week, platinum futures rallied 5.1 per cent, the most in almost two months. The market will stay in a shortage in the next six years as supplies remain constrained amid growing or robust demand from jewellers and car companies, according to a report commissioned by the World Platinum Investment Council.

* Silver futures for March delivery climbed 0.1 per cent to $14.243 an ounce Friday on the Comex. The metal advanced 3.2 per cent this month.