PRECIOUS-Gold thrives on flight to safety; palladium jumps

 (Updates prices)
    * U.S. recovery could extend into next year -Fed's Powell
    * SPDR gold holdings hit seven-year highs
    * Palladium, silver up more than 4%
    * For an interactive graphic tracking the global coronavirus
spread, open in an external browser

    By Brijesh Patel
    May 18 (Reuters) - Gold jumped more than 1% on Monday to its
highest since October 2012 after a batch of weak data knocked
hopes for a speedy global economic recovery while auto-catalyst
palladium surged to a three-week high.
    Spot gold        was up 0.8% at $1,754.62 an ounce by 1238
GMT. U.S. gold futures        rose 1% to $1,758.90.
    "The market continues to speculate about negative interest
rates in the U.S. and extremely low interest rates and cheap
money all over the world," said Commerzbank analyst Eugen
    "Also, fears of economic crisis are unfolding given the very
weak data in the United States and elsewhere." 
    Data published on Friday showed U.S. retail sales and
industrial production both plunged in April, with the
coronavirus crisis continuing to pummel the U.S. labour market.
    Data in Japan, meanwhile, confirmed that the world's
third-largest economy slipped into recession in the first
    Gold, which tends to appreciate on expectations of lower
interest rates, has risen more than 16% this year as central
banks have rolled out a wave of rate cuts and other stimulus
measures to limit economic damage caused by the virus-outbreak.
    Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell over the weekend said
that a U.S. economic recovery could stretch deep into next year
and a full comeback could depend on a coronavirus vaccine.
    "Dovish comments from the Fed and concerns about the stock
market have lifted bullion," ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo
Alberto De Casa said in a note.
    "It is clear that investors are continuing to buy bullion as
insurance in case there are any further corrections on stocks."
    Indicative of sentiment, SPDR Gold Trust       holdings, the
world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.8% to
1,113.78 tonnes on Friday - its highest in more than seven
    Markets are also keeping a wary eye on China's trade
relations with the United States.             
    Among other precious metals, palladium        was up 4.8% at
$1,992.21 an ounce after gaining more than 9% in early trade.
    "Data from the World Platinum Investment Council forecast 
platinum to be in moderate surplus, which is not actually a
massive disappointment. Therefore prices of palladium and
platinum are rising," Commerzbank's Weinberg said.             
    Weinberg also cited expectations that the coronavirus crisis
will prompt more people to use their cars rather than public
    Both platinum and palladium are used by automakers in
catalytic converters to clean car exhaust fumes.
    Platinum        rose 2.2% to $815.23 an ounce, while silver
       jumped 4.1% to $17.29.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru
Editing by David Goodman and Louise Heavens)