Gold hits 8-year peak on mounting virus jitters

Spot gold edged up 0.1% at $1,782.21 per ounce by 0115 GMT

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Ingots On Wooden Table.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Ingots On Wooden Table.

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Gold prices rose to their highest in nearly eight years on Wednesday as a spike in coronavirus cases sparked concerns over the economic recovery from the pandemic and boosted demand for safe-havens.

Spot gold hit its highest since early October 2012 at $1,788.96 in early trade, and was little changed at $1,779.95 per ounce by 1205 GMT. U.S. gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,794.00 per ounce.

"Uncertainty about the coronavirus, particularly in the U.S, which could put the brakes on an economic recovery, and the ultra-loose monetary policy of central banks are giving support to gold," said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.

A rise in negative-yielding global bonds was also adding to the metal's appeal, he said. Lower bond yields reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-interest bearing gold.

But with investment demand likely to be higher than jewellery consumption this year, especially with practically no physical demand in Asia, gold's price gains are "somewhat fragile", he added. 

The United States recorded its biggest one-day spike in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic on Tuesday, with the government's top infectious disease expert warning that infections could double. 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell pledged to continue to support the economy, which has been hammered by the pandemic. 

Reflecting high investor demand, holdings in the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust GLD , increased by 211.9 tonnes, or nearly 22%, in the second quarter. 

"Technically the situation remains firmly bullish with investors betting on further (money) printing activity from central banks," said ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa.

Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus from central banks because it is widely considered a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.

Palladium was down 0.6% at $1,918.24 per ounce, while platinum fell 0.4%, to $813.14 per ounce and silver rose 0.3% to $18.19 per ounce.

(Reporting by Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey) ((nakul.iyer@thomsonreuters.com; Within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, Outside U.S. +91 80 6749 0417; Reuters Messaging: nakul.iyer.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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