March 5, 2020 / 3:25 PM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold jumps 2% as virus fears put premium on safety

(Updates prices)

* Euro zone markets price in ECB rate cut next week

* U.S. 10-year treasury yield fall back below 1%

* Dollar drops to near two-month low

* GRAPHIC-2020 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

By Brijesh Patel

March 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices climbed 2% to a more than one-week high on Thursday as worries over the global spread of the coronavirus spurred more safe-haven flows and hopes of further monetary policy easing by major central banks.

Spot gold was up 1.9% at $1,666.16 per ounce by 1:36 p.m. EST (1836 GMT). U.S. gold futures settled 1.5% higher at $1,668.

“Clearly as the equity markets are under pressure and there are more concerns about the coronavirus, so obviously we are seeing money flowing out of riskier assets into safe havens like gold,” said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

“In addition, we continue to view gold as a quintessential hedge against a flood of global central bank liquidity. Gold continues to lead the charge and continues to be our favourite alternative investment out there.”

Equity markets tanked after California declared an emergency over the epidemic as the death toll rose in the United States.

There are now more than 90,000 COVID-19 coronavirus cases globally, with over 3,000 deaths.

The International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday the global spread had crushed hopes for stronger growth this year, while a Fed report showed there were signs the epidemic had begun to weigh on U.S. business sentiment.

The U.S. Fed and Bank of Canada have both responded by cutting interest rates by 50 basis points. Markets in the euro zone are pricing in a 90% chance that the European Central Bank will cut its deposit rate next week.

“Gold’s macro argument is simple. The virus hit to global growth and low interest rates globally will keep gold prices climbing higher,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at broker OANDA, in a note.

Further supporting bullion, the dollar index slipped 0.5% to a near two-month low against a basket major of currencies, while the U.S. 10-year treasury yield fell back below 1%.

Elsewhere, palladium dropped 1.6% to $2,536.16 per ounce.

“While we expect the price of palladium to be more volatile over the coming weeks, we continue to anticipate it will trend higher over the coming quarters, supported by solid fundamentals,” UBS said in a note.

“Despite weaker car sales (likely also related to the coronavirus outbreak), we think 2020 will be a ninth consecutive deficit year for the white metal.”

Silver gained 1.1% to $17.36 per ounce, while platinum slipped 0.7% to $866.33. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru Editing by Nick Macfie and Matthew Lewis)

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