PRECIOUS-Gold holds steady as weak U.S. data pauses Wall Street rally

 (Recasts; updates prices, market activity)
    * Weekly jobless claims increase 30,000 to 778,000
    * Fed officials discussed evolving role of asset purchases
    * Dollar at near three-month low
    * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus:
 in an external browser

    By Shreyansi Singh
    Nov 25 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Wednesday as
Wall Street retreated from a record run on an unexpected rise in
U.S. jobless claims, and the precious metal bounced off a sharp
slide toward $1,800.
    Spot gold        was little changed at $1,806.87 an ounce at
2:55 p.m. EST (1955 GMT), a day after hitting its lowest since
July 17 at $1,800.01. 
    U.S. gold futures        settled up 0.1% at $1,805.50.
    The U.S. Labor Department reported initial claims for state
unemployment benefits last week increased to 778,000 from
748,000 in the prior week.             
    The jobless data is supportive for gold "just on notions
that we've still got a very dark period ahead before we get
through this pandemic," Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff
    The surprise rise in weekly jobless claims amid surging
COVID-19 infections dampened investor risk appetite and halted a
record rally in Wall Street fuelled by vaccine hopes.     
    Safe-haven gold has lost nearly $160 since Pfizer's
promising COVID-19 vaccine data boosted investors hopes for a
quick economic rebound and prompted a shift towards riskier
    The dollar's slide "along with the technical support (for
gold near $1,800), convinced some people to maybe stop selling
and acquire some more positions," said Bart Melek, head of
commodity strategies at TD Securities.       
    Meanwhile, U.S. central bankers agreed asset purchases were
providing accommodation to the economy after market conditions
stabilized, according to the Federal Reserve minutes of the Nov.
4-5 meeting released on Wednesday.
    Some participants in the Federal Open Market Committee said
they expected the Fed to eventually lengthen the maturity of the
bonds purchased, according to the deliberations.[ nW1N2HH01B]
    Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures from
central banks because it is widely viewed as a hedge against
inflation and currency debasement.
    Silver        was up 0.3% at $23.31 an ounce, platinum
       inched up 0.1% to $960.47 and palladium        was down
0.4% at $2,339.26.

 (Reporting by Shreyansi Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara
Lewis, David Gregorio and Tom Brown)