February 28, 2020 / 12:02 PM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold slides to 1-wk low; eyes 3rd monthly gain as virus worsens

(Adds comment, updates prices)

* Gold/silver ratio highest in almost 30 years

* Palladium sheds 7%

* Platinum on track for worst week since 2010

* Coronavirus interactive graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2GVwIyw

By Harshith Aranya

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Gold slid more than 1% to its lowest in a week on Friday as the recent price rallies prompted investors to take profits, but the metal was still on track for a third consecutive monthly gain as the spread of coronavirus gathered pace.

Spot gold was down 1% to $1,623.51 per ounce at 1424 GMT, having surged as much as 1.3% in the last session. U.S. gold futures slipped 1.1% to $1,625 per ounce.

“There’s a bit of profit-taking in gold,” Bank of China International analyst Xiao Fu said, adding she was “not surprised to see some correction from time to time especially when you have excessive build-ups.”

Gold has added around 2% so far this month, having hit a 7-year high of $1,688.66 earlier this week as coronavirus spooked markets.

“The market is pricing in three cuts (in U.S. interest rates) by the end of this year and that’s increased from one cut (expected) earlier. So, the sentiment has shifted and with lower U.S. yields, we should see gold prices be very supported,” Fu said.

Four more countries reported their first virus cases, with countries other than China now accounting for about three-quarters of new infections.

The virus scare sent world share markets plunging again on Friday, compounding their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis.

“One might imagine that there would be robust demand for gold in this environment, yet precisely the opposite is true this morning,” Commerzbank analysts wrote in a note.

“We attribute this to forced selling aimed at offsetting losses elsewhere.”

Other precious metals also declined, with palladium sliding 7.1% to $2,642.24 per ounce.

“When sentiment is ruled by fear, investors always rush to cash and liquidity, and also sell profitable investments due to margin calls or to cover other investment losses,” said Samson Li, a Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS.

Palladium jumped to a record $2,875.50 on Thursday due to a sustained supply shortfall.

The auto-catalyst metal was on track to gain for the seventh consecutive month.

Platinum shed 3.7% to $865.35, en route to its worst weekly fall since 2010.

Silver fell 3.5% to $17.08 an ounce, on track for its worst month in three.

“The gold/silver ratio has risen... to 95, meaning that silver is lower vis-à-vis gold than at any time in almost 30 years,” Commerzbank said.

Reporting by Harshith Aranya and Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter and Louise Heavens

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