March 26, 2020 / 11:22 AM / 7 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold edges higher as gloomy U.S. jobs data dents dollar

 (Updates prices)
    * U.S. weekly jobless claims surge to a record 3.28 mln
    * U.S. Senate overwhelmingly backs $2 trln bill
    * Palladium eases after 20% surge on Wednesday

    By Harshith Aranya
    March 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged up on Thursday,
recovering from initial losses, after data showed U.S. jobless
claims surged to a record high due to the coronavirus pandemic.
    The data put further downward pressure on the dollar,
lifting the appeal of gold which is seen as a safe haven.       
           
    Spot gold        was up 0.3% at $1,618.60 per ounce by 1235
GMT. 
    "Short term, initially gold may rise when stocks fall
because it's a safe haven asset. However if selling in stocks
continue, funds may see margin calls and need to sell gold for
cash," said Samson Li, a Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst
at Refinitiv GFMS.
   "Long term, with all the liquidity central banks are
injecting into the system, there will be massive purchasing
power destruction in the future, which will be good for gold."
    Data showed the number of Americans filing claims for
unemployment benefits shot to an all-time high of more than 3
million last week as strict measures to contain the coronavirus
pandemic hit economic activity.             
    The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a $2
trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries
hurt by the coronavirus, but that did little to prop up risk
sentiment.              
    This came after the U.S. Federal Reserve said on Monday it
would buy bonds in unlimited numbers and backstop direct loans
to companies.              
    "We see real interest rates remaining negative for a long
time, keeping the non-yielding gold investments attractive...
Any price setback will be an opportunity to buy gold," said Soni
Kumari, commodity strategist at ANZ. 
    Gold market participants, meanwhile, remained concerned
about a supply squeeze in the market, following a sharp
divergence in London and New York prices as the coronavirus
closed precious metals refineries.
    U.S. exchange operator CME Group         on Tuesday
announced a new gold futures contract to combat price volatility
caused by the shutdown of gold supply routes, but traders and
bankers said it would not immediately calm markets.             
    U.S. gold futures         rose 1% to $1,649.40 per ounce,
and held above the London spot        contract.
    Elsewhere, palladium        dropped 2.3% to $2,264.53 per
ounce, having registered its largest daily gain since 1997 on
Wednesday as a lockdown in major producer South Africa
exacerbated supply woes.             
    "Palladium is still not on very firm ground as the metal is
more sensitive to economic meltdown," ANZ's Kumari said.
    Platinum        slipped 2.1% to $722.31 an ounce, while
silver        shed 0.3% to $14.39.

 (Reporting by Harshith Aranya and Asha Sistla in Bengaluru;
Editing by Bernadette Baum and Susan Fenton)
  
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