February 27, 2020 / 1:39 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains as rapid spread of virus spurs safe-haven demand

    Feb 27 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Thursday as fears of
a pandemic heightened after coronavirus infections surged in
Italy and Iran, triggering a move away from riskier assets.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        gained 0.3% to $1,644.11 per ounce as of
0044 GMT.
    * U.S. gold futures        was up 0.2% at $1,646.
    * The number of new infections inside China - the source of
the outbreak - was for the first time overtaken by fresh cases
elsewhere on Wednesday, with Italy and Iran emerging as
epicentres of the rapidly spreading illness.             
    * Italy has reported more than 400 cases and Iran has
reported only 139 cases, but epidemiologist say the true number
of cases must be many times higher.              
    * Financial markets have been reacting to news of the virus'
spread because of its potential impact on the global economy.
    * The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields were holding
close to a record low touched in the previous session, while S&P
500 e-mini futures also fell.          
    * Public health officials on Wednesday warned Americans to
prepare for more virus cases and New York City announced plans
to provide up to 1,200 hospital beds if needed.             
    * Germany is also at the beginning of an epidemic after new
cases sprung up which can no longer be traced to the virus's
original source in China, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on
Wednesday.                 
    * Sales of new U.S. single-family homes raced to a
12-1/2-year high in January, pointing to housing market strength
that could help to blunt any hit on the economy from the
epidemic and keep the longest economic expansion in history on
track.             
    * South Korea's central bank kept its key interest rate
unchanged on Thursday, defying expectations for a cut amid
growing pressure to ease policy as the outbreak hits demand in
the export-reliant economy.             
    * SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.5% to 935.70
tonnes on Wednesday.          
    * Palladium        rose 1.4% to $2,829.12 per ounce, while
platinum        inched up 0.2% to $912.44, having touched its
lowest level since December earlier this session.
    * Silver        edged up 0.3% to $17.93 an ounce, after
having touched a one-week low in the previous session.
    
DATA/EVENTS (GMT)
    
1000   EU        Consumer Confidence Final (Feb)
1330   U.S.      Durable Goods             (Jan)
1330   U.S.      GDP 2nd Estimate          (Q4)
1330   U.S.      Initial Jobless Claims    (Weekly)    

 (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy
Caren Daniel)
  
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