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PRECIOUS-Gold hits 8-week peak as pandemic remains untamed

    Jan 4 (Reuters) - Gold prices climbed to their highest in
eight weeks on Monday, holding above $1,900, as global COVID-19
cases spiked and countries pushed for more lockdowns despite
vaccine rollouts.

    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        rose 0.8% to $1,912.71 per ounce by 0102
GMT, its highest since Nov. 9, while U.S. gold futures       
climbed 1.1% to $1,916.40.
    * The dollar index        remained weaker against rivals on
Monday, making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.
      
    * Global coronavirus cases continued to climb, with British
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinting at tougher lockdown
restrictions, while Japan considered declaring a state of
emergency for capital Tokyo and surrounding areas.
                        
    * Investor focus was also on Tuesday's Georgia runoff
elections that will decide the control of the U.S. Senate, and
with it, the likely fate of President-elect Joe Biden's
legislative agenda.             
    * The U.S. Senate ended a push by Democrats to increase
COVID-19 financial relief checks from $600 to $2,000, a change
sought by President Donald Trump, after the effort was blocked
by Republicans.             
    * Britain will become the first country to roll out the
low-cost and easily transportable AstraZeneca         and Oxford
University COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.             
    * The U.S. Federal Reserve will release the minutes from
their latest policy meeting on Wednesday.
   * SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings rose 0.08% to 1,170.74
tonnes on Thursday.          
    * Physical gold demand remained largely muted across top
Asian hubs last week as holidays kept buyers at bay.
            
   * Silver        gained 2.4% to $26.98 an ounce. Platinum
       gained 0.6% to $1,075.15  and palladium        rose 0.6%
at $2,461.95.
    
DATA/EVENTS (GMT, Dec)
0145  China    Caixin Mfg PMI Final
0850  France   Markit Mfg PMI
0855  Germany  Markit/BME Mfg PMI
0900  EU       Markit Mfg Final PMI
0930  UK       Markit/CIPS Mfg PMI Final
1445  US       Markit Mfg Final PMI

 (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by
Ramakrishnan M.)
  
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