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Gold eases as ECB keeps policy on pause, virus woes limit fall

(Reuters) - Gold eased on Thursday after the European Central Bank kept its policy on hold, prompting some investors to lock in profits, but worries over mounting cases of the coronavirus and their impact on economic recovery limited bullion’s decline.

FILE PHOTO: The Sicpa Oasis validator system (bullion protect) is pictured on one kilogram bar of gold at Swiss refiner Metalor in Marin near Neuchatel, Switzerland July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Spot gold fell 0.4% to $1,804.29 per ounce by 11:10 am EDT (1510 GMT). It hit $1,817.71, its highest since September 2011, last week.

U.S. gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,809.90.

“The key narrative is that central banks are on hold for some time and more stimulus is coming but it’s going to be much later. That’s taking a little bit of the bullish trend that gold has firmly been in recently,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at broker OANDA.

“Some investors are locking profits but medium to long investors are firmly maintaining their position and they’re looking to buy on any significant dip.”

ECB President Christine Lagarde said the central bank will use its stimulus firepower fully even as the euro zone economy shows some signs of rebounding from its pandemic-induced recession.

Gold, widely considered a hedge against inflation and currency debasement, has risen 19% this year, prompted by massive stimulus measures and low interest rates, although market participants are still divided on the outlook for inflation.

The rise in U.S.-China tensions and an uptick in coronavirus infections in some major economies is keeping gold fundamentally supported, said Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff.

Wall Street fell as concerns about the economic toll from another round of shutdowns across the United States offset upbeat domestic retail sales data.

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States has forced states such as California to shut down again, sparking fears of more business damage.

“Gold is tied in a trading range of $1,800 and $1,815,” said ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa, adding that further lockdowns would be positive for gold.

Palladium rose 0.3% to $1,986.89 an ounce, while platinum lost 0.7% to $826.32 per ounce and silver slipped 0.5% to $19.28.

Reporting by Shreyansi Singh and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky