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Gold gains above $1,800/oz as infection cases mount

(Reuters) - Gold prices rose above the key $1,800 level on Monday, underpinned by surging coronavirus cases globally and concerns that they may slow down recovering economies.

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars and granules are displayed in the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant Oegussa in Vienna June 2, 2009. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

Spot gold rose 0.6% to $1,808.75 per ounce by 11:02 a.m. EDT (1502 GMT). U.S. gold futures were up 0.4% at $1,809.40 per ounce.

U.S.-China trade tensions and the record number of COVID-19 cases being reported on a daily basis are the underlying themes supporting the gold market, Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff said.

“Of course, there’s going to be normal downside corrections, but the trend remains up.”

Global coronavirus infections passed 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease which has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

Driving inflows into the safe-haven asset further, China announced “corresponding sanctions” against the United States on Monday after Washington penalized senior Chinese officials over the treatment of minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The dollar index .DXY dropped 0.4% after a third consecutive weekly decline, while Wall Street's main indexes rose as investors cheered signs of progress in COVID-19 vaccine development.

The yellow metal has risen over 19% so far this year due to massive stimulus from governments and central banks across the globe to revive coronavirus-hit economies.

Speculators increased bullish positions in COMEX gold and silver contracts in the week to July 7, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday.

Silver climbed 3.1% to $19.25 per ounce after hitting $19.31, the highest since Sept. 5.

Silver may continue to outperform benefiting from both the positive precious metals environment and its industrial characteristics, at a time when its supply may remain constrained, TD Securities said in a note.

Platinum was 3.7% higher at $844.49 per ounce, while palladium gained 3.4% to $2,036.64.

Reporting by Shreyansi Singh and K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang