February 26, 2020 / 4:22 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold gains as U.S. warning heightens virus concerns

(Adds graphic, updates prices)

* Silver gains after last session’s steep fall

* Platinum edges higher from two-month low

* U.S. 10-yr Treasury yields hit record low on Tuesday

* Coronavirus interactive graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2GVwIyw

By Shreyansi Singh

Feb 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Wednesday after a sharp drop in the previous session, as a U.S. warning of an inevitable pandemic prompted investors to seek refuge in safe-haven assets.

Spot gold rose 0.7% to $1,646.19 per ounce by 0826 GMT, having slumped as much as 1.9% in the previous session. On Monday, prices touched their highest in more than seven years at $1,688.66.

U.S. gold futures eased 0.1% to $1,648.30.

“People are worried that the virus is spreading across the globe and will become a pandemic,” said IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda.

“Perhaps, the worst case scenario for the global economy could start to materialise and that is keeping gold prices bid because everyone is concerned that the virus is leading to low yields.”

The United States alerted Americans on Tuesday to begin preparing for the spread of coronavirus in 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 significantly, halt or shrink in the current quarter, Reuters polls found.

“Investors are expected to continue to move into safe-haven assets as the impact on economic development in affected countries remains a subject of speculation,” Phillip Futures analysts said in a note.

Asian shares fell as worries over the spread of the virus drove another Wall Street tumble and pushed yields on Treasuries to record lows.

“The market is finding it difficult to look further into the medium term due to uncertainty regarding what the virus will do to the global growth. There are beliefs that central banks may cut rates sooner than later,” IG Markets’ Rodda added.

The impact of the outbreak on global economic activities increased bets for monetary policy easing by central banks, with U.S. money market futures now fully pricing in a 0.25 percentage point cut by end-June.

Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Reflecting appetite for gold, holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.7% to 940.09 tonnes on Tuesday.

Among other precious metals, palladium gained 1.2% to $2,730.91 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.8% to $933.49, having touched its lowest in two months on Tuesday.

Silver was up 0.6% at $18.10 an ounce, having fallen as much as 4.1% in the previous session.

Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan and Shreyansi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Subhranshu Sahu

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