December 31, 2019 / 1:30 PM / 23 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold at 3-month peak; set for biggest annual rise since 2010

 (Updates prices)
    * Gold up about 19%, silver up 16% year to date
    * Palladium up over 50% this year, biggest precious metal
gainer
    * Platinum set for best year since 2009
    * GRAPHIC-2019 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

    By Diptendu Lahiri
    Dec 31 (Reuters) - Gold rose to its highest in more than
three months on Tuesday as a weak dollar encouraged investors to
buy the safe-haven asset, with the metal set to post its biggest
yearly gain since 2010.
    Scarcity-hit palladium was on track to surge more than 50%
in its fourth straight yearly gain. 
    Spot gold        hit its highest since Sept. 25 at $1,525.20
and was up 0.4% to $1,520.73 per ounce by 1306 GMT. U.S. gold
futures         rose 0.3% to $1,523.60.
    "There are still a lot of uncertainties that we are taking
into 2020, we don't know where the (China-U.S.) trade war is
going, the tension around the Iran issue is also not helping,"
said Afshin Nabavi, senior vice president at precious metals
trader MKS SA.
    "I see gold being supported in 2020 as well, until questions
around all uncertainties have an answer," he said, adding
investors were banking more on gold as a safe-haven asset than
the dollar.
    The dollar        slipped against a basket of rivals,
hovering close to a 6-month low hit last week, making gold
cheaper for holders of other currencies.       
    Investor interest in gold has surged this year due to a raft
of geopolitical uncertainties, including the China-U.S. trade
war, Middle East tensions and protests in Hong Kong.
    Bullion was also supported by rate cuts by major central
banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve cutting three times
before it signalled it would keep rates unchanged through 2020.
            
    Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding
non-yielding bullion. 
    Elsewhere, palladium        advanced about 1% to $1,924.37
per ounce, extending gains into a fourth straight year.
    Prices have jumped over 52% this year, the most since 2017,
which would make palladium the biggest gainer among precious
metals this year.
    "The physical supply of palladium seems to be pretty scarce,
though we saw a quick correction when it could not hit the
$2,000 level, but sentiment is still positive and that level is
not far away," Nabavi said.
    Silver        rose 0.6% to $18.02 an ounce and was on course
for its best year since 2010, rising about 16%.
    Platinum        1.4% to $971.10 an ounce and was set to gain
about 23% for the year in its biggest advance since 2009.

 (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; editing by Jason
Neely and David Evans)
  
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