February 14, 2020 / 4:36 PM / 3 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold poised for a weekly gain as virus fears lift safe-haven demand

(Updates prices)

* Gold on track for a weekly rise

* U.S. consumer spending slows

* China reports 121 new deaths and 5,000 new coronavirus cases

* Palladium up over 4% for the week so far

By Diptendu Lahiri

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose to the highest level in more than a week on Friday, on track for a weekly gain, as investors bet on the safe-haven metal to hedge against the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Spot gold rose 0.5% to $1,583.18 per ounce by 1:43 p.m. EST (1843 GMT), after touching $1,583.76, its highest price since Feb. 3. For the week, bullion has so far gained about 0.8%.

U.S. gold futures settled up 0.5% at $1,586.40.

“The coronavirus scenario is still unclear and the on-off headlines on the situation are making the stock markets volatile, forcing investors to take refuge in safe-haven gold,” said George Gero, managing director at RBC Wealth Management.

“Even with the virus gone, gold is expected to trade in the $1,550-$1,600 range as other uncertainties like lower interest rates across the major central banks, Middle East tensions and other political risks still exist.”

Chinese authorities on Thursday reported 121 new deaths and 5,000 new coronavirus cases in mainland China, and economists scaled back growth expectations for the world’s second-largest economy as they assessed the impact of the outbreak.

Global stock markets have had a volatile week as investors took and quit positions in riskier assets driven by the frequently changing headlines around China’s coronavirus outbreak.

Wall Street opened slightly higher, with gains kept in check by concerns about the economic hit from the outbreak.

Further supporting gold’s rise, U.S. Treasury yields declined after soft retail sales data amid virus concerns.

U.S. consumer spending appears to have slowed further in January, which raises concerns about the economy’s ability to continue expanding at a moderate pace.

“We still target a decline in U.S. Treasury yields, in addition to dollar weakness from a trade-weighted angle. We believe this gives gold a good risk-reward even if we see no further bouts in equity market uncertainty,” UBS analysts said in a note.

Among other precious metals, palladium fell 0.3% to $2,417.20 an ounce, but was on track to register its best week since the week ended Jan. 17, with a gain of more than 4%.

Silver rose 0.7% to $17.75 , while platinum fell 0.3% to $964.53

Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru Editing by Richard Chang and Matthew Lewis

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