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PRECIOUS-Gold inches higher on U.S. stimulus deal, COVID-19 jitters

    Dec 22 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher on Tuesday as investors
focussed on the U.S. fiscal stimulus package that is set to be
voted on by Congress, with fresh restrictions forced by a new
coronavirus strain in the UK providing further support to the
metal. 
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        rose 0.1% to $1,878.72 per ounce by 0038
GMT. U.S. gold futures        rose 0.1% to $1,884.60 per ounce.
    * A majority of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to
move a $900 billion coronavirus aid bill struck by Congressional
leaders for a vote on passage on Monday evening.             
    * Economists expect the package to support the
pandemic-ravaged economy and set it up for a stronger recovery
next year as vaccines become more widely available.             
    * A new coronavirus strain in the UK, thought to be 70% more
infectious, prompted a lockdown affecting more than 16 million
Britons and caused several countries around the world to shut
their borders to Britain, putting Asian shares on course for a
weaker start.                                      
    * Meanwhile, the European Union geared up to start mass
vaccinations against COVID-19 just after Christmas after Pfizer
        and its German partner BioNTech's vaccines cleared
regulatory hurdles on Monday.             
   * British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday there
were still problems in Brexit trade talks and that Britain would
thrive without a deal.             
   * Holdings in SPDR's Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.2% to 1,169.86 tonnes
on Monday from 1,167.82 tonnes on Friday.             
   * Silver        rose 0.2% to $26.23 an ounce. Platinum       
fell 0.5% to $1,004.51 and palladium        gained 0.5% to
$2,319.46. 
    
    DATA AHEAD(GMT)
    1330  US Q3 GDP Final                         
    1500  US Nov. Existing Home Sales               
    2350  Bank of Japan releases minutes of monetary policy
meeting held on Oct. 28 and 29 

 (Reporting by Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu
Sahu)
  
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