Gold markets: Coronavirus pandemic in focus

An employee arranges gold bars for a photograph at the YLG Bullion International headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dario Pignatelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold prices were steady on Wednesday, hovering close to a more-than-seven-year high hit in the previous session, as investor fears of a global economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic heightened, supporting the appeal of the safe-haven metal

Spot gold was trading at $1,727.59 per ounce, as of 0042 GMT, having touched its highest since Nov. 2012 at $1,746.50 in the previous session. U.S. gold futures fell 0.9% to $1,752.20 an ounce.

Asian shares looked set to pull back from a one-month high, as warnings of a deep recession dampened investor optimism that the slowing spread of the coronavirus could allow businesses to re-open.

The retreat from riskier assets followed the International Monetary Fund’s prediction on Tuesday that the global economy may shrink by 3% in 2020 due to the virus outbreak, in the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The contagion, which has infected more than 1.9 million people globally and killed 120,670, has forced countries to shut activity and prompted central banks to unleash support measures.

China approved early-stage human tests for two experimental vaccines as it battles to contain imported cases, especially from Russia.

Britain’s economy could shrink by 13% this year due to the government’s pandemic-driven shutdown, its deepest recession in three centuries, the country’s budget forecasters said.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s May 1 target for restarting the economy is “overly optimistic,” his top infectious disease adviser said on Tuesday, after Trump and state governors clashed over who has the power to lift restrictions aimed at curbing the outbreak.

U.S. Federal Reserve is grappling with the complexities of how to simultaneously reopen the country’s economy and protect against a resurgence of infections, while it launched a funding backstop to address liquidity problems on Tuesday.

Holdings of the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, rose 0.8% to 1,017.59 tonnes on Tuesday.

Palladium fell 0.6% to $2,205.25 per ounce and silver dropped 1.1% to $15.64, while platinum advanced 1.1% to $783.25 an ounce.

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