(Adds comments, details and updates prices) * SPDR gold holdings jump to 7-year high * Palladium hovers around more-than 1-month low * U.S. service sector activity contracts in April * For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser By K. Sathya Narayanan May 6 (Reuters) - Gold slipped on Wednesday as the easing of coronavirus-driven restrictions by several nations raised prospects of a gradual recovery in economic activity, denting the bullion's safe-haven appeal. Spot gold eased 0.1% to $1,704.69 per ounce by 0703 GMT. U.S. gold futures gained 0.1% to $1,712.10. There is "optimism about the outlook for economies as we start to move away from lockdown," said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets. Gold prices ended higher in the previous three sessions, and have risen about 17% since mid-March, as uncertainty remained with the virus spreading and as U.S.-China trade tensions re-emerged. "There is fear about another wave of trade war between U.S. and China. So, investment demand is rising - ETF holdings are rising," said Jigar Trivedi, commodities analyst at Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers in Mumbai. Holdings in the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF), SPDR Gold Trust , rose 0.4% to 1,076.39 tonnes on Tuesday, the highest level since April 2013. U.S. President Donald Trump urged China to be transparent about the origin of the virus as his administration weighs new tariffs on Beijing for its handling of the virus, which has now infected more than 3.67 million people globally and disrupted economic growth. CMC Markets' McCarthy said that there were market doubts whether the U.S. would be bullish enough to spark another trade dispute while economies are recovering from the virus. "We are seeing support for safe-haven yen and the U.S. dollar is also holding up quite well. So there clearly are different views about the outlook for the global economy." The U.S. dollar rose for a fourth straight session, making gold costlier for investors holding other currencies. Underscoring the deepening economic impact of COVID-19, data showed that the U.S. services sector contracted for the first time in nearly 10-1/2-years in April. Elsewhere, silver rose 0.5% to $15.10 per ounce and platinum gained 0.7% to $769.60. Palladium rose 1.3% to $1,823.67, having touched a more-than one-month low on Tuesday. Prices of the metal, widely used in catalytic converters to reduce harmful emissions from cars, have plunged nearly 40% from a record high hit on Feb. 27. Prices of platinum group metals could fall 15-20% in near term on rising surplus, though it could be seen as a longer-term buying opportunity, Citigroup said in a note. (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Supriya Kurane)
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