US economic data, coronavirus 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 rose on Thursday after a 1% drop in the previous session as grim U.S. economic data underscored the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, while investors awaited the weekly jobless claims report from the world’s largest economy.

Spot gold gained 0.4% to $1,691.98 per ounce by 0043 GMT. U.S. gold futures rose 0.4% $1,695.60.

Asian stocks were set to come under pressure as downbeat economic data pushed investors to safe havens.

The dollar touched a more than one-week peak, limiting bullion’s gains.

U.S. private employers laid off a record 20.236 million workers in April as mandatory business closures in response to the virus savaged the economy.

Later on Thursday, the weekly U.S. jobless claims report is expected to show that initial claims for state unemployment benefits are likely to have dropped to 3 million for the week ended May 2.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his coronavirus task force would shift its primary focus to reviving business and social life.

Trump also said that he would be able to report in about a week or two whether China is fulfilling its obligations under a Phase 1 trade deal, even as his administration is weighing actions against Beijing over its handling of the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday the situation in care homes had improved, after his health minister denied Britain had prioritized hospitals over many elderly people in homes in its fight against the outbreak.

The euro zone economy will contract by a record 7.7% this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, inflation will almost disappear and public debt and budget deficits will balloon, the European Commission forecast on Wednesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced steps on Wednesday to ease the lockdown in Germany but at the same time launched an “emergency brake” mechanism allowing for renewed restrictions in case infections pick up again.

Orders for German industrial goods fell in March at their steepest rate since records began in 1991 as demand collapsed due to the outbreak.

Palladium rose 0.5% to $1,805.99 an ounce, platinum gained 0.7% to $753.76 and silver was up 0.3% at $14.97.

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