April 29, 2020 / 9:44 AM / a month ago

PRECIOUS-Gold steady as hopes of lockdown easing lifts stocks; focus on Fed

 (Updates prices)
    * U.S. Fed policy decision due at 1800 GMT
    * Worldwide coronavirus cases at over 3.1 million
    * For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread,
open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7
 in an external browser

    By Brijesh Patel
    April 29 (Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed on
Wednesday as optimism over economies easing coronavirus
lockdowns lifted other assets and investors awaited the U.S.
Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision later in the day.
    Spot gold        was steady at $1,708.09 per ounce by 1202
GMT. U.S. gold futures        edged 0.1% up to $1,723.50 per
    "A few countries are planning to ease lockdown measures,
this is pressuring gold a bit at the movement," Julius Baer
analyst Carsten Menke said.
    "There is sufficient fundamental support from safe-haven
demand, but no panic-buying, although the uncertainty regarding
the virus and also the economy remains too high for gold to
really lose ground. All in all, this keeps prices around the
$1,700 level."
    World shares eked out gains on plans for a gradual easing of
coronavirus curbs, while better-than-expected corporate earnings
and a rise in oil prices further lifted sentiment.            
    Investors across the world are hoping that the pandemic may
be peaking as parts of the United States, Europe and Australia
gradually ease restrictions. New Zealand this week allowed some
businesses to reopen.             
    All eyes are on the Fed, which is scheduled to release a
statement at 1800 GMT, followed by a news conference by Chairman
Jerome Powell. The European Central Bank meets on Thursday.
    The Fed has cut interest rates, resumed bond-buying and
backstopped credit markets in response to the economic damage
caused by the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 1
million people in the United States.             
    Also on investors' radar, quarterly U.S. gross domestic
product numbers will be released at 1230 GMT, with consensus
forecasts for a contraction of around 4%.             
    Gold, considered a safe investment during times of political
and financial uncertainty, tends to benefit from widespread
stimulus measures as it is often seen as a hedge against
inflation and currency debasement.
    "In a world of gnarly economic and real-life news flows,
gold declines are likely to be limited, given the favourable
opportunity cost to warehouse yellow metal with interest rates
at zero across the board," said Stephen Innes, chief market
strategist at financial services firm AxiCorp, in a note.
    Among other precious metals, palladium        gained 1.5% to
$1,944.96 an ounce, platinum        rose 0.6% to $776.18. Silver
       edged 0.1% higher to $15.21 per ounce.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; editing by Elaine
Hardcastle and David Evans)
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