June 19, 2020 / 6:29 PM / 21 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold rises as new coronavirus cases spur lockdown fears

    * Palladium heads for second straight weekly decline
    * Silver on track for second weekly gain

 (Updates prices)
    By Diptendu Lahiri
    June 19 (Reuters) - Gold gained on Friday as a rise in
coronavirus cases raised concerns of a second wave of the
pandemic that could compel governments to implement new
    Spot gold        was up 1.1% to $1,740.79 per ounce by 2:03
p.m. ET (1803 GMT), while U.S. gold futures        settled 1.3%
up at $1,753 per ounce.
    Spot prices reached their highest level since 2012 last
month at $1,764.55.
    "There are continued upturns in COVID-19 throughout the
South and Southwest of U.S. with uptick in the hospitalization
rate. ... That has caused a little bit of concern of another
shutdown, which is benefiting gold," said Jeffrey Sica, founder
of Circle Squared Alternative Investments.
    More than 8.38 million people worldwide have been infected
with the novel coronavirus. Earlier this week some 400 workers
at an abattoir in northern Germany tested for the virus, and
China on Friday reported 32 new cases of the virus.            
    "No matter what the long-term consequences, like inflation,
there will be continued stimulus throughout the world and that
will keep gold prices supported in the long term," Sica said. 
    So far this year, gold prices have risen about 15%,
supported by safe-haven demand in the midst of concerns of an
economic slowdown and unprecedented amounts of government and
central bank fiscal and monetary support, which has reduced bond
yields and has also raised fears about inflation.              
    "Spot gold has yet to close above $1,750, and if and when
that happens, we suspect renewed momentum and fresh buying from
underinvested hedge funds will propel the price higher towards
$1,800," Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen wrote in a note.
    Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index        was
up 0.2%.
    Palladium        fell 0.6% to $1,913.17 an ounce and was on
track for a second consecutive weekly decline. Platinum       
gained 1.2% to $813.56 per ounce and was up 0.9% so far for the
    Silver        was up 0.6% at $17.62 and was on track for a
second week of gains.  

 (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Shreyansi Singh in Bengaluru;
editing by Diane Craft and Leslie Adler)
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