PRECIOUS-Gold steadies near $1,800 on virus fears, U.S.-China spat

    * Silver heads for sixth straight weekly gain
    * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus:
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 (Updates prices)
    By Brijesh Patel
    July 17 (Reuters) - Gold steadied near the psychological
level of $1,800 on Friday after a sharp fall in the previous
session, as worries over surging coronavirus cases and
U.S.-China tensions underpinned its safe-haven appeal, although
a stronger dollar capped gains.
    Spot gold        was up 0.1% at $1,799.18 per ounce by 0710
GMT. U.S. gold futures        were steady at $1,799.90.
    "Gold is being held up due to rising geopolitical
uncertainty, and a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the United
States as well as across the world," said National Australia
Bank economist John Sharma, adding, a stronger USD has kept gold
in check. 
    The dollar        held firm against its rivals, also
benefiting from safe-haven inflows.       
    The United States reported at least 70,000 new COVID-19
cases on Thursday, a record daily increase for the seventh time
this month, according to a Reuters tally.             
    New York Fed President John Williams said it could take a
few years for the U.S. economy to recover from the damage caused
by the pandemic, and it was not yet the time to think about
raising interest rates.             
    "The bull's case for gold remains intact with real rates low
and suppressed and which would be able to sustain the high price
of gold. But with prices at yearly highs, buying the dips
probably works out best for most traders as a trading strategy,"
Phillip Futures said in a note.
    Lower U.S. interest rates increase the appeal of
non-yielding bullion.
    Markets also kept a wary eye on China's trade relations with
the U.S., with Washington considering a ban on travel to the
United States by all members of the Chinese Communist Party and
their families, a person familiar with the matter said.
    Elsewhere, palladium        dropped 1.4% to $1,967.95 per
ounce, while platinum        eased 0.2% to $822.85.
    Silver        fell 0.7% to $19.03, but was on track for a
sixth consecutive weekly rise.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh