February 26, 2020 / 2:17 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains as pandemic fears hit risk appetite

    Feb 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Wednesday, heading
back towards a more-than seven-year high hit earlier this week,
as a warning from the United States over the domestic spread of
the coronavirus outbreak rattled global markets, supporting
safe-haven demand.
    * Spot gold        was up 0.5% at $1,643.49 per ounce, as of
0124 GMT, after having slumped as much as 1.9% in the previous
session. On Monday, prices touched $1,688.66, their highest in
more than seven years. 
    * U.S. gold futures        eased 0.2% to $1,647.
    * Asian shares fell as a U.S. warning to Americans to
prepare for the possibility of a pandemic drove another Wall
Street tumble and pushed yields on safe-haven Treasuries to
record lows.                  
    * The United States told Americans on Tuesday to begin
preparing for the virus to spread within the country as
outbreaks in Iran, South Korea and Italy escalated.             
    * The effects of the outbreak are likely to reverberate
beyond China as most major economies in the region are expected
to either slow down significantly, halt or shrink outright in
the current quarter, according to a Reuters poll.             
    * The rapid spread of the virus and its impact on global
economic activities increased bets for monetary policy easing by
global central banks, with U.S. money market futures         now
fully pricing in a 0.25 percentage point cut by the end of June.
    * However, U.S. consumer confidence edged up in February,
suggesting a steady pace of consumer spending that could support
the economy despite growing fears over the fast-spreading virus.
    * China has quarantined 94 passengers on a flight from Seoul
to Nanjing after three were showing signs of fever, the state
broadcaster CCTV said early on Wednesday.             
    * China's monthly net gold imports via Hong Kong plunged 77%
to 9.34 tonnes in January, Hong Kong Census and Statistics
Department data showed on Tuesday, as the country grapples with
the outbreak that is seen damaging its growth.             
    * SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings rose 0.7% to 940.09
tonnes on Tuesday.          
    * Palladium        slipped 0.5% to $2,685.85 per ounce,
while platinum        gained 0.3% to $928.48.
    * Silver        rose 0.6% to $18.09 per ounce.

1500 U.S. New home sales-units (Jan)

 (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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