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PRECIOUS-Gold firms near $1,900 level on stimulus hopes, sombre dollar

    * Platinum hits more than one-week high of $908.50/oz
    * U.S. weekly initial jobless claims data due at 1230 GMT
    * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus:
here

 (Recasts, adds comments, updates prices)
    By Nakul Iyer
    Oct 1 (Reuters) - Gold rose close to the $1,900 mark on
Thursday, boosted by an easing dollar and increased investor
confidence that there will be further U.S. fiscal stimulus
measures to aid the virus-beaten economy.   
    Spot gold        rose 0.6% to $1,896.78 per ounce by 1002
GMT, having ended September 4.3% lower, in its biggest monthly
drop since November 2016.
    U.S. gold futures        were 0.3% higher at $1,901.70 per
ounce.
    On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said
talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "made a lot of progress"
on the long-awaited COVID-19 relief legislation.             
            
    StoneX analyst Rhona O'Connell said uncertainty over the
outcome of the U.S. Presidential election remained a supportive
factor longer term, but negotiations over stimulus between
Pelosi and Mnuchin were likely to influence trade more in the
short term.
    Regardless of the election outcome, "there will still likely
be wrangling over fiscal stimulus to try and maintain financial
stability ... I think there will be decently sized stimulus
anyway, but the political nuances will stay," she said. 
    Gold is often viewed as a hedge against inflation and
currency debasement.  
    Hopes for the passage of a long-awaited fiscal stimulus
package in the U.S. and strong labour and manufacturing data
gave a boost to risk sentiment and pushed the dollar to a
one-week low.                   
    A weaker dollar makes bullion cheaper for investors who hold
other currencies.
    Market participants await U.S. initial jobless claims data
due later on Thursday and a non-farm payrolls report on Friday
for clues about the pace of recovery in the world's largest
economy.
    If U.S. jobs data is at least in line with expectations and
as long as the wage inflation number is strong, that may be gold
negative, said DailyFx currency strategist Ilya Spivak.
    Among other precious metals, silver        rose 2.2% to
$23.71 per ounce. Platinum        hit a more than one-week high 
of $908.50 per ounce and was last up 1.2% at $898.66, while
palladium        fell 0.2% to $2,300.90. 

 (Reporting by Nakul Iyer and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru;
editing by Barbara Lewis)
  
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