June 16, 2020 / 3:42 PM / 25 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains as fresh China virus fears offset strong U.S. data

    * Beijing battling fresh outbreak with over 100 new cases
    * U.S. retail sales notch biggest advance on record
    * Trial shows generic steroid reduces COVID-19 death rates
    * India, China troops clash at Himalayan border 
    * Palladium hits near one-week high of $1,965.21/oz

 (Adds details, updates prices)
    By Diptendu Lahiri
    June 16 (Reuters) - Gold edged up on Tuesday as concerns
over a fresh coronavirus outbreak in China countered a surge on
Wall Street driven by a record rise in U.S. retail sales and
optimism over a COVID-19 drug.
    Spot gold        rose 0.09 % to $1,726.17 per ounce by 2:52
p.m. ET (1852 GMT). U.S. gold futures         settled 0.5% up at
    Raising concerns over the pandemic, Beijing's city
government raised its COVID-19 emergency response level to II
from III, according to state media. There have been more than
100 new cases confirmed in recent days.                        
    "Gold is gaining after Beijing suddenly tightened the
measures, with schools shut and people advised not to leave the
city unless necessary," said Alex Turro, market strategist at
RJO Futures.
    Gold shook off earlier slight declines, which were driven by
the surge on Wall Street after data showed U.S. retail sales
rose 17.7% last month, the biggest advance on record.
    Equities also found support from data showing reduced
COVID-19 death rates in a trial of a generic steroid drug.
    "Every time the (gold) price falls, it seems that investors
are seeing it as a buying opportunity," ActivTrades chief
analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said in a note.
    Gold's fundamentals are strong, given the low interest-rate
environment and uncertainty over the pandemic, RJO Futures' Bob
Haberkorn said. 
    The Bank of Japan said it expected to pump around 110
trillion yen ($1 trillion) into the economy.              
    Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding
non-yielding bullion. 
    Investors also kept a close eye on escalating tensions
globally, as Indian and Chinese troops clashed at their disputed
border, while North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office
set up in a border town.                          
    Palladium        gained 1.54% to $1,936.81 per ounce, after
earlier hitting its highest level since June 10, at $1,965.21,
while platinum        rose 1.52 % to $823.86.
    Silver        was up 0.1% at $17.45.

 (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie
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