March 19, 2020 / 3:37 PM / 19 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold drops 1% as investors cash out, dollar surges

 (Updates prices)
    * Dollar hits fresh 3-year high
    * Platinum down for seventh-straight session
    * Virus spreads to nearly 230,000 people worldwide
    * GRAPHIC-2020 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

    By Brijesh Patel
    March 19 (Reuters) - Gold prices slipped more than 1% on
Thursday as the dollar jumped to multi-year highs, with the
coronavirus pandemic threatening to cripple economic activity
and prompting investors to sell assets to keep their money in
cash.
    Spot gold        was down 1.2% at $1,468.42 per ounce by
02:07 p.m. EDT (1807 GMT), while U.S. gold futures        
settled up 0.1% at $1,479.30.
    "Clearly gold's safe-haven status has not been held up,"
said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge
Futures. "Players are moving towards cash."
    "Also, we have seen an extremely strong move in the dollar
over the course of the last several sessions. As we do see more
central banks around the world act in regards to coronavirus, we
do see the dollar is the flight to safety."
    The dollar        notched a fresh three-year high as demand
stayed strong despite the recent burst of liquidity injection
operations undertaken by central banks around the world.       
    "The world marketplace has seen confirmation that the
greenback is still king when times get really tough. The big
grab for greenbacks is perpetuating dislocations in the
financial markets," Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff said
in a note.
    Investors shed riskier assets as another round of sweeping
emergency action from policymakers failed to convince
panic-stricken stock markets.                         
    "With all the extra stimulus from governments and central
banks out there, it's been a wild ride in debt markets recently,
further feeding the frenzy in precious metal markets," OANDA
analyst Craig Erlam said in a note.
    The relentless spread of the virus, which has infected
nearly 230,000 across the world, has triggered panic and sparked
a wide sell-off in assets, including safe-haven bullion.
            
    Official U.S. data showed the number of Americans filing for
unemployment benefits surged last week to their highest level
since 2017 in the first indication of the outbreak's toll on
employment.             
    Meanwhile, holdings of the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust      , fell 0.7% on
Wednesday.          
    Among other precious metals, palladium        rose 3.4% to
$1,641.52 per ounce after sliding over 5% earlier in the day,
while platinum        dropped 5.1% to $592.83, falling for the
seventh straight session.
    Platinum and palladium will likely remain turbulent in
coming months after huge losses sparked by the spread of
coronavirus, before starting a tentative recovery, analysts
said.
    Silver        gained 0.5% to $12.05 an ounce, but hovered
close to an 11-year low hit in the previous session.
    

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru
Editing by Matthew Lewis, Lisa Shumaker and Richard Chang)
  
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