Gold holds as investors flee equities amid coronavirus shock

Gold bullion is displayed at Shinhan Bank in Seoul. (File photo: AFP)

Gold held its ground as the disruption to the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic intensified, with President Donald Trump restricting travel from Europe to the US Investors shunned risk assets from equities to industrial commodities. Palladium tanked.

Bullion steadied after an early advance, with US equity futures sharply lower as Trump’s Oval Office address failed to reassure the markets. On Wednesday, gold fell as some investors were likely prompted to sell the metal to cover margin calls with the Dow Jones Industrial Average collapsing into a bear market, ending a historic bull run.

Gold is holding near a seven-year high amid prospects for further central bank easing as the health crisis worsens. The next monetary policy salvo comes from the European Central Bank, which will unveil a decision later Thursday.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic, while Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu.

“The declaration of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic has further knocked investor confidence,” said Gavin Wendt, senior resource analyst at MineLife Pty.

There’s rising concern that the virus outbreak and market ructions will, in turn, trigger stresses in global credit markets. Borrowing costs in Asia’s dollar bond market surged, as did the price of insuring such debt against default. That followed similar moves in the US, aiding gold’s haven appeal.

Spot gold climbed as much as 0.9 percent, before trading little changed at $1,638.32 an ounce by 11:19 a.m. in London. Prices hit $1,703.39 on Monday, the highest since December 2012.

While “a breather seems reasonable for gold at this point,” UBS Group AG sees the potential for further gains. The bank raised its three-month price target to $1,790 an ounce, but expects gold to retreat from highs later in the year as the global economy recovers, according to a note received Thursday.

Among other main precious metals, silver and platinum declined. Palladium tumbled 3.6 percent, putting the metal on course to enter a bear market.

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Last Update: 11:31 KSA 14:31 - GMT 11:31
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