PRECIOUS-Gold nears $1,900/oz on weaker dollar, stimulus hopes

    * 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:

 (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
    "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

 (Reporting by Shreyansi Singh and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru;
Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Dan Grebler)