* Spot gold hits $1,897.91 per ounce * U.S. weekly jobless claims rise to 1.416 million * Palladium prices could reach $2,500/oz by mid-2021 -UBS * GRAPHIC-2020 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl (Recasts, adds comments, updates prices) By Shreyansi Singh and Diptendu Lahiri July 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices jumped more than 1%, just shy of the $1,900 level on Thursday, boosted by an easing dollar and hopes for more stimulus to revive virus-hit economies, while a rise in U.S. jobless claims raised concerns of a slower economic recovery. Spot gold rose 0.8% to $1,886.09 per ounce by 2:06 p.m. EDT (1806 GMT), having hit its highest since September 2011 at $1,897.91. U.S. gold futures settled up 1.3% at $1,890. "The macro environment continues to evolve favourably for gold with the dollar index weakening to two-year lows and negative real yields falling further," said Standard Chartered analyst Suki Cooper. The dollar dipped 0.3%, having hit a near two-year low earlier, making gold less expensive for holders of other currencies. "Expectations of further stimulus and heightening geopolitical tensions continue to bolster safe-haven demand," Cooper added. Non-yielding gold has surged 24% this year, underpinned by lower interest rates and widespread stimulus measures from major central banks. U.S. Senate Republicans plan to propose another round of direct payments to Americans in the next coronavirus relief bill, a senior aide said on Thursday. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week for the first time in nearly four months, suggesting the labour market was stalling amid a resurgence in new infections. "It (jobless claims data) tells you that at least here in the States, we still have a long way to go before we recover," said Edward Meir, analyst at ED&F Man Capital Markets. Elsewhere, silver was 2.2% lower at $22.52 per ounce, having hit a nearly seven-year high earlier in the session. Palladium edged down 0.2% to $2,142.79 per ounce, and platinum fell 1.1% to $911.53. Market tightness in the second half of 2020, supported by monetary and fiscal stimulus measures, should support palladium prices over the next 12 months, UBS said in a note. It added that it expected the auto catalyst metal to reach $2,500/oz by mid-2021. (Reporting by Shreyansi Singh and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Dan Grebler)
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