(Recasts with latest prices, adds comment)
* Asian equities fall on virus concerns
* GRAPHIC-2020 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl
* Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser
July 10 (Reuters) - Gold eased on Friday pressured by a stronger dollar and hovered near the key $1,800 milestone, but was set for a fifth straight weekly gain as a spike in U.S. COVID-19 infections underpinned safe-haven appetite.
Spot gold was down 0.4% at $1,796.03 per ounce by 0614 GMT, but was up about 1.2% for the week. U.S. gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,801.10.
“The risk-off backdrop drove haven demand for the U.S. dollar,” pushing gold lower, said DailyFx currency strategist Ilya Spivak.
“Nevertheless, the pullback looks corrective in the context of a rising trend.”
Gold has risen about 18% this year, with safe-haven demand fuelled by the surge in coronavirus cases driving the metal to a near nine-year peak of $1,817.71 on Wednesday.
More than 60,000 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported across the United States on Wednesday, the largest one-day increase by any country since the pandemic emerged in China last year.
Reflecting the resultant risk-off sentiment, Asian equities fell on concerns of fresh lockdowns in the U.S.; which also boosted the dollar, a rival safe-haven, making gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Data showed U.S. shoppers were staying out of stores in areas where cases are rising the most, dampening hopes of a quick recovery in the world’s biggest economy.
Americans filing for jobless benefits dropped to a near four-month low last week, but a record number were still collecting unemployment checks in the third week of June, supporting expectations the labour market would take years to recover.
For gold, longer-term technicals suggest a slowing in the price momentum, with positioning pointing to a market very long on gold and implying a short-term pullback is possible, IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda said.
Palladium fell 0.2% to $1,938.83 per ounce, platinum declined 0.8% to $826.65, and silver slipped 0.6% to $18.54. (Reporting by Harshith Aranya in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shailesh Kuber)
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