May 1, 2020 / 3:31 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold heads for weekly fall on lockdown easing hopes

 (Adds comments, updates prices)
    * Bullion down 3.3% so far this week
    * Palladium eyes 5th straight weekly drop
    * U.S. jobless claims rise to 30.3 mln since March 21
    * For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread,
open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7
 in an external browser

    By K. Sathya Narayanan
    May 1 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Friday, giving up early gains
en route to its worst week in more than a month on growing
optimism that global coronavirus containment measures would be
eased, offering potential respite from economic gloom.
    Spot gold        fell 0.6% to $1,670.88 per ounce by 0754
GMT. U.S. gold futures         fell 1% to $1,677.50.
    Gold was down about 3.3% for the week, its biggest drop
since mid-March, having slumped nearly 2% on Thursday.
    "Comments about easing restrictions in a number of countries
and some encouraging news about the drug Remdesivir for treating
the coronavirus has led to increased optimism, and lowered
demand for gold," said National Australia Bank economist John
Sharma.             
    Half of all U.S. states forged ahead with their strategies
for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other
businesses in hopes of reviving the virus-stricken commerce.
            
    "The virus is far from over, but the wave of positive news
had taken some air out of gold's wings," said Edward Moya, a
senior market analyst at broker OANDA. 
    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson too promised to set out a
plan next week on how Britain might start gradually returning to
normal life.              
    There were still plenty of uncertainties over the timing of
any moves to ease lockdowns, however, and worries that any such
steps might result in secondary outbreaks, said Michael
McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets. 
    Bullion also rose as much as 0.6% earlier in the session as
dismal data from the United States underscored the deep economic
impact of the virus, before reversing course. 
    "The impact of the crisis will keep economic data sombre.
Ample liquidity, lower interest rates and elevated equity market
volatility will keep gold investment demand strong," said Soni
Kumari, commodity strategist at ANZ. 
    Millions more Americans filed claims for unemployment
benefits last week, lifting the number of applications to 30.3
million since March 21, amid a record collapse in consumer
spending in March.             
    This despite elaborate stimulus measure from the U.S.
government and the Federal Reserve.                          
    Bullion tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures
as it's often seen as a hedge against inflation and currency
debasement.
    Palladium        declined 2.3% to $1,915.50 per ounce, on
track for its fifth straight weekly decline.
    Platinum        fell 1.6% to $759.56 per ounce. Silver
       was down 1.5% to $14.80, en route for its worst week in
more than a month.

 (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu and Tom Hogue)
  
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