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UPDATE 2-Golden quarter for Newmont as high prices double profit

(Compares with estimates, adds background)

Feb 18 (Reuters) - Gold miner Newmont Corp beat Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, as higher prices for the precious metal fueled by the pandemic countered a drop in production largely due to asset sales.

The metal’s appeal as a hedge against inflation helped power a 25% gain in 2020 when global central banks and governments rolled out unprecedented stimulus measures to cushion the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic blow.

The world’s largest gold miner’s adjusted profit more than doubled to $856 million in the last quarter of 2020, while attributable gold production fell 11% to 1.6 million ounces.

Rival Barrick earlier on Thursday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on soaring gold prices.

Newmont said averaged realized gold prices climbed to $1,852 per ounce in the quarter, from $1,478 per ounce a year earlier.

The company, which reiterated its 2021 production outlook of 6.5 million ounces, cited the sale of Red Lake and Kalgoorlie mines, as well as the placing of its Yanacocha and Cerro Negro mines in temporary care and maintenance due to the pandemic for the drop in 2020 output.

All-in sustaining cost, a closely watched industry benchmark, rose 10% to $1,043 per ounce in the quarter, in part due to higher sustaining capital needs at its Boddington gold mine in Western Australia.

On an adjusted Newmont earned $1.06 per share in the three months ended Dec.31, beating estimates 95 cents, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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