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Gold edges higher as gloomy U.S. jobs data dents dollar

By Harshith Aranya
FILE PHOTO: Newly casted ingots of 99.99% pure gold are stored after weighing at the Krastsvetmet non-ferrous metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk

By Harshith Aranya

(Reuters) - Gold prices edged up on Thursday, recovering from initial losses, after data showed U.S. jobless claims surged to a record high due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The data put further downward pressure on the dollar, lifting the appeal of gold which is seen as a safe haven.

Spot gold was up 0.3% at $1,618.60 per ounce by 1235 GMT.

"Short term, initially gold may rise when stocks fall because it's a safe haven asset. However if selling in stocks continue, funds may see margin calls and need to sell gold for cash," said Samson Li, a Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS.

"Long term, with all the liquidity central banks are injecting into the system, there will be massive purchasing power destruction in the future, which will be good for gold."

Data showed the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits shot to an all-time high of more than 3 million last week as strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic hit economic activity.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a $2 trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the coronavirus, but that did little to prop up risk sentiment.

This came after the U.S. Federal Reserve said on Monday it would buy bonds in unlimited numbers and backstop direct loans to companies.

"We see real interest rates remaining negative for a long time, keeping the non-yielding gold investments attractive... Any price setback will be an opportunity to buy gold," said Soni Kumari, commodity strategist at ANZ.

Gold market participants, meanwhile, remained concerned about a supply squeeze in the market, following a sharp divergence in London and New York prices as the coronavirus closed precious metals refineries.

U.S. exchange operator CME Group on Tuesday announced a new gold futures contract to combat price volatility caused by the shutdown of gold supply routes, but traders and bankers said it would not immediately calm markets.

U.S. gold futures rose 1% to $1,649.40 per ounce, and held above the London spot contract.

Elsewhere, palladium dropped 2.3% to $2,264.53 per ounce, having registered its largest daily gain since 1997 on Wednesday as a lockdown in major producer South Africa exacerbated supply woes.

"Palladium is still not on very firm ground as the metal is more sensitive to economic meltdown," ANZ's Kumari said.

Platinum slipped 2.1% to $722.31 an ounce, while silver shed 0.3% to $14.39.


(Reporting by Harshith Aranya and Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Susan Fenton)