February 28, 2020 / 3:44 AM / in a month

PRECIOUS-Gold slips, but on track for 3rd monthly gain on pandemic fears

 (Adds comments, details and updates prices)
    * Palladium sheds 5% but set for best month since Nov 2016
    * Platinum on track for worst week since Sept 2011
    * Coronavirus interactive graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2GVwIyw
    * GRAPHIC-2020 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl 

    By Shreyansi Singh
    Feb 28 (Reuters) - Gold prices retreated on Friday as
investors booked profits from a 1% jump in the last session, but
the metal had some support as mounting concerns over the rapid
spread of coronavirus lifted expectations of rate cuts by major
central banks. 
    Spot gold        was down 0.7% at $1,630.86 per ounce by
0845 GMT. U.S. gold futures         slipped 0.6% to $1,631.90
per ounce.
    "This virus is getting a lot more serious ... People are
worried there might be a need for some more stimulus measures,
so that means lower (interest) rates," said John Sharma,
economist at National Australia Bank, adding that high prices
prompted some profit-taking.
    Bets rose that the U.S. Federal Reserve would cut interest
rates as soon as next month to cushion the economy from the
virus' impact.                                    
    Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding
non-yielding bullion. 
    Bullion has added almost 3% so far this month, its third
straight monthly gain. Prices hit a 7-year high of $1,688.66
earlier this week.
    "On every dip we make, we are expecting a buy because the
main trend for gold is still up," said Vandana Bharti, assistant
vice-president of commodity research at SMC Comtrade.
    World share markets were headed for the worst week since the
2008 financial crisis as investors braced for the virus' impact
on economic growth.                   
    Countries on three continents reported their first cases of
the coronavirus on Friday, and the World Health Organization
said all countries needed to prepare to combat the virus.
    Among other precious metals, palladium        slipped 2.6%
to $2,770.03 per ounce, and fell as much as 5% but was on track
to register its most monthly gains since November 2016. 
    Palladium jumped to a record $2,875.50 in the previous
session on a sustained supply shortfall, with the world's
largest producer of the metal, Nornickel, projecting a global
deficit of 0.9 million ounces in 2020.             
    "Despite palladium having undergone some price corrections,
it was much stronger than some expected, considering it's an
industrial, rather than monetary metal," said Samson Li, a Hong
Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS. 
    "When sentiment is ruled by fear, investors always rush to
cash and liquidity, and also sell profitable investments due to
margin calls or to cover other investment losses."
    Platinum        shed 1.9% to $881.96, en route to its worst
fall in a week since September 2011.
    Silver        fell 2.7% to $17.22 an ounce, on track to post
its worst month in three. 

 (Reporting by Shreyansi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
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