May 15, 2020 / 10:53 AM / in 21 days

PRECIOUS-Gold hits 3-week high as U.S.-China dispute fans growth concerns

 (Updates prices)
    * Gold up 2% so far this week; eyes best week in three
    * Palladium faces seventh straight weekly loss
    * U.S. retail sales data due at 1230 GMT 
    * U.S. economy will not regain lost ground in H2 2020

    By Brijesh Patel
    May 15 (Reuters) - Gold prices gained for a fourth straight
session on Friday, hitting a more than three-week high as rising
U.S.-China trade tensions added to fears about the global
economy already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
    Spot gold        was up 0.2% at $1,732.63 per ounce at 1205
GMT, after hitting its highest since April 23. Bullion has risen
nearly 2% so far this week. U.S. gold futures         were
steady at $1,740.20.
    "Gold has been consolidating for weeks and finally broke
free yesterday, the momentum from that move could be sustaining
the rally," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said.
    "When something has been consolidating for so long, the
breakout can be quite explosive as stops are triggered and longs
initiated. I feel it may be a combination of the (U.S.) jobless
claims catalyst and technical factors here."
    Data on Thursday showed 2.98 million Americans filed for
state unemployment benefits last week.
    A Reuters survey showed an already dismal near-term U.S.
economic outlook had darkened further. While a recovery is still
forecast in the second half of the year, it won't come close to
regaining the ground lost this year.             
    The focus now shifts to U.S. retail sales data due at 1230
GMT that will reflect the impact of stay-at-home orders on
consumers in April.
    The pandemic has battered global growth and prompted central
banks and governments to roll out massive stimulus measures.
    Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus from central
banks because it is widely viewed as a hedge against inflation
and currency debasement.
    SPDR Gold Trust       holdings, the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, jumped 1.2% to 1,104.72 tonnes
on Thursday - its highest in more than seven years.          
    Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said the
pandemic had cast a pall over his January trade deal with China,
and suggested he could even cut ties with Beijing.
    "The background noise for the trade war continues ... Also,
oil is going up today which is sort of helping the underlying
inflation momentum for gold," said Stephen Innes, chief market
strategist at financial services firm AxiCorp.      
    Elsewhere, palladium        climbed 0.9% to $1,817.56 an
ounce, but was on track to post its seventh straight weekly
    Platinum        edged 0.1% higher to $768.58 per ounce.
Silver        jumped 2.2% to $16.24 an ounce and was set to mark
its biggest weekly gain in five.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Emelia
Sithole-Matarise and Mark Potter)
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