* Silver on track for best month on record * Dollar hits over two-year low, eyes worst month in decade * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser (Updates prices) By Brijesh Patel July 31 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Friday en route to its best month in 8-1/2 years as the dollar slid further after dismal U.S. data added to doubts about a swift recovery from the pandemic-induced economic slump, driving investors towards the safe-haven metal. Spot gold was up 0.8% at $1,975.44 per ounce by 0651 GMT after snapping a nine-session winning streak on Thursday. U.S. gold futures rose 1.5% to $1,970.70. The U.S. dollar fell to a two-year low and was on course for its worst month in a decade, making bullion cheaper for investors holding other currencies. Apart from U.S. data showing the deepest economic contraction in at least 73 years in the second quarter, and a rise in unemployment benefits, the dollar was also hurt as President Donald Trump raised the idea of delaying the Nov. 3 presidential election. "The weak Q2 GDP also underscores the point of a weak economy, and investors seeking refuge in gold," said National Australia Bank economist John Sharma. A deterioration in the coronavirus situation, escalation in geopolitical tensions and further declines in the dollar could push gold above the $2,000 level, he added. Gold has risen nearly 11% so far this month, its biggest monthly percentage gain since January 2012, having soared to an all-time high of $1,980.57 on Tuesday. The jump took gains for the year to nearly 30%, driven by a worsening pandemic and low interest rates globally amid widespread stimulus from central banks since the metal is considered a refuge against inflation and currency debasement. "However, further gains are reliant on investor demand, with consumer demand showing no signs of recovery," ANZ analysts said in a note. Among other metals, silver climbed 2.6% to $24.16 an ounce, on course for its best month on record - up over 30%, with additional support coming from hopes for a revival in industrial activity. Platinum rose 0.8% to $909.98 and palladium gained 0.7% to $2,096.84. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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