February 10, 2020 / 3:56 AM / 14 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steadies as markets weigh severity of coronavirus outbreak

(Updates prices)

* Coronavirus death toll crosses 900

* Dollar touches 4-month peak

* Spot gold neutral in a range of $1,563-$1,574/oz - technicals

By Asha Sistla

Feb 10 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Monday as rising concerns over the severity of the coronavirus outbreak offset a slight reprieve for equities after China eased some work and travel restrictions.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,570.50 per ounce by 0746 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were up 0.1% to $1,575.60.

Asian shares pared losses as workers began trickling back to offices and factories around China as the government eased some restrictions.

However, market worries persisted about the fallout from the epidemic that has killed more than 900 people in China and infected over 40,000.

“There’s still a great deal of uncertainty around the (virus) impact and we’re seeing rising deaths and infections. The economic impacts are still unclear. If that’s the case, we’ll continue seeing reasonable support for gold,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

However, he said that a rise in China’s January producer and consumer prices “minutely hurt” gold.

Also capping gold’s gains, the dollar touched a four-month peak earlier in the session against a basket of rival currencies after robust U.S non-farm payrolls data on Friday.

“Gold’s overall price action remains consolidative but constructive in the bigger picture,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

“A further escalation in the coronavirus situation, such as a rapid increase in international cases, will strengthen the case for a test of resistance sooner rather than later.”

Spot gold looks neutral in a range of $1,563-$1,574 per ounce and an escape could suggest a direction, said Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Palladium advanced 1.6% to $2,353.71 an ounce, silver edged higher by 0.3% to $17.73 and platinum rose 0.5% to $969.16. (Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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