Equities, oil prices, US dollar in focus

A one kilo Swiss gold bar and US dollars gold coins are pictured in Paris on February 20, 2020.

JOEL SAGET| AFP via Getty Images

Gold prices held steady on Wednesday as fragile equities, hammered by falling crude prices, offset a stronger U.S. dollar.

Spot gold was steady at $1,685.46 per ounce by 0041 GMT. U.S. gold futures were up 0.9% at $1,703.60.

The metal fell as much as 2% in the previous session as investors scurried for cash to cover losses in other asset classes mainly driven by a plunge in oil prices.

Against key rivals, the dollar was hovering close to a two-week high scaled in the previous session, making gold costlier for investors holding other currencies.

Asian share markets were set to tumble on Wednesday as the floor fell out from under U.S. crude prices, exposing the deep damage the coronavirus pandemic has had on global economic demand.

The crash in U.S. crude prices has turned a reliable commodity less than worthless and given fresh urgency to bearish voices, who say it sounds alarm bells for global growth and are bracing for a catastrophic collapse in asset prices.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved $484 billion in fresh relief for the U.S. economy and hospitals hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, sending the measure to the House of Representatives for final passage later this week.

U.S. home sales dropped by the most in nearly 4-1/2 years in March as measures to control the spread of the virus brought buyer traffic to a virtual standstill.

The true extent of Britain’s COVID-19 death toll was more than 40% higher than the government’s daily figures indicated as of April 10, according to data that put the country on track to become among the worst-hit in Europe.

The heads of the International Monetary Fund, European Stability Mechanism and other regional financing arrangements on Tuesday agreed to work together to mitigate the economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.

SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings rose 0.37% to 1,033.39 tonnes on Tuesday.

Palladium rose 2.1% to $1,963.68 per ounce, having touched a near one-month low in the previous session.

Platinum gained 0.4% to $749.76 per ounce, while silver eased 0.3% to $14.88

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