January 29, 2020 / 11:50 AM / 21 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains as virus concerns linger, investors await Fed

(Updates prices)

* Death toll from coronavirus rises to 132 in China

* Recovery in equities capping gold’s gains - analyst

* U.S. Fed policy statement due at 1900 GMT

By Diptendu Lahiri

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Wednesday, propped up by lingering concerns over the economic impact of a coronavirus outbreak in China, while investors awaited a policy decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve later in the day.

Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,569.38 per ounce at 1323 GMT, having fallen about 1% in the previous session after positive U.S. economic data drove a recovery in equities.

U.S. gold futures were little changed at $1,569.30 an ounce.

“The coronavirus will definitely have some impact on the Chinese economy and that will mostly affect the country’s currency, but an impulsive bull trend in gold is not expected yet,” said Bernard Sin, group head of trading at MKS.

Safe-haven gold held aloft despite signs of stabilisation in global stock markets as equities investors tried to look past China’s coronavirus outbreak, encouraged by better-than-expected company earnings.

While rising stocks are capping gold’s gains, it is still being supported by other factors such as uncertainty around U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment and tensions in the Middle East, said Quantitative Commodity Research analyst Peter Fertig.

Risk aversion has not completely lifted, however. With the number of coronavirus fatalities now at 132 and 6,000 cases reported worldwide, there are fears the outbreak could inflict damage on Chinese growth.

If there is an escalation, gold could breach $1,600, Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

Investors are now waiting for the Fed’s monetary policy statement at 1900 GMT.

Possibly of greatest interest will be what if anything Fed Chair Jerome Powell has to say about the high Treasury purchases the Fed has been making since October to inject more liquidity into the money market, Commerzbank said in a note.

Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

“The main driver for gold this year will be strategic inflows, as it will continue to be viewed as an attractive diversifier for investor portfolios in an environment where rates remain low,” UBS strategist Joni Teves said.

Elsewhere, palladium fell 0.6% to $2,276.64 an ounce, while platinum was up 0.2% at $987.37.

Palladium will cost on average more than twice as much as platinum this year, but that premium will narrow in 2021, a Reuters poll showed.

Silver rose 0.2% to $17.47, having earlier dipped to its lowest since Dec. 23 at $17.35. (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey and Mark Potter)

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