PRECIOUS-Gold eases as equities shrug off virus fears

Reuters

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 (Updates prices)
    * Gold on track for 0.3% weekly gain
    * Dollar rises to more than four-month high
    * Investors await U.S. retail sales, consumer confidence
numbers

    By K. Sathya Narayanan
    Feb 14 (Reuters) - Gold dropped off a more than one-week
high on Friday as hopes for global measures to counter the
coronavirus outbreak increased appetite for equities, though the
metal remained on track for a weekly gain.   
    Spot gold  XAU=  was down 0.1% at $1,575.31 an ounce at 0846
GMT, having touched its highest since Feb. 4 at $1,577.89.  
    U.S. gold futures  GCv1  were flat at $1,579.
    "Equities markets have shrugged off the bearish sentiment
and started to move higher as investors reassess the potential
(economic) impact of the virus," said CMC Markets analyst
Margaret Yang Yan, adding that bullion is also being pressured
by a strong dollar.
    Asian shares were poised for a second straight week of gains
and the dollar  .DXY  rose to a more than four-month high
against a basket of major currencies.  MKTS/GLOB   USD/ 
    However, analysts said that interest in gold remains
undimmed as the death toll in China's Hubei province continues
to rise.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2AE088
    Bullion has gained about 0.3% this week.
    Investors will also be watching for U.S. retail sales and
consumer confidence numbers due later in the day.
    "The U.S. consumer is really the biggest piece of global
growth at this point," said DailyFx currency strategist Ilya
Spivak, pointing to a sluggish Europe as well as China's health
crisis and trade war with the United States.
    U.S. prosecutors on Thursday accused Chinese company Huawei
 HWT.UL  of stealing trade secrets. Washington had placed the
telecoms equipment maker on a trade blacklist last year.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2AD1BH
    The latest accusations come as the two countries pursue a
Phase 2 trade agreement after signing a Phase 1 deal in an
apparent thaw in relations after a prolonged trade dispute.
    "Given it is an election year in the U.S., the consensus in
the gold market is that the Chinese would do anything to make
sure they don't cause any further disruption to their economy,
at a time when it is pretty vulnerable," said IG Markets analyst
Kyle Rodda.
    In other precious metals, palladium  XPD=  rose 0.6% to
$2,438.71 an ounce, set for its strongest week in a month. 
    Silver  XAG=  gained 0.3% to $17.69, while platinum  XPT= 
was up 0.3% at $970.60.

 (Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; 
Editing by Bernard Orr and David Goodman)
 ((Sathya.Narayanan@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223
8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2732; Reuters Messaging:
sathya.narayanan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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