PRECIOUS-Gold jumps as record high U.S. jobless claims fuel stimulus hopes


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 (Updates prices, adds graphics)
    * U.S. weekly jobless claims surge to a record 3.28 mln
    * U.S. Senate overwhelmingly backs $2 trln bill
    * Wall street jumps on hopes of more stimulus
    * Palladium eases after 20% surge on Wednesday

    By Sumita Layek
    March 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices jumped to a two-week high
on Thursday, after a record surge in U.S. jobless claims dented
the dollar and boosted expectations of further stimulus to
cushion the global economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic.
    Spot gold  XAU=  rose 1.1% to $1,631.05 per ounce as of
14:56 p.m. EDT (1756 GMT).
    "More countries are expected to release some sort of
stimulus packages which is a big event for gold. In addition to
it, unemployment claims jumped. That tells the investors that QE
is going to have more longevity," said Michael Matousek, head
trader at U.S. Global Investors.
    Central banks have been turning to quantitative easing (QE),
or large-scale purchases of government bonds and other financial
assets to pump money into the economy.
    Data showed a record high of more than 3 million Americans
filed claims for unemployment benefits last week as strict
measures to contain the pandemic hit economic activity.*:nAQN02BMEJ
    "It's an indication that things are slowing down
dramatically. The worse data you can get right now, the market
should respond favourably, because that provides more ammunition
for the Fed to be keep on stimulating," Matousek added.
    The dollar dropped to a near one-week low against rivals,
making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.  USD/ 
    Wall Street stocks jumped as investors bet on more stimulus
measures.  .N 
    The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a $2
trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries
hurt by the outbreak.*:nL1N2BI0KN 
    This came after the U.S. Federal Reserve said on Monday it
would buy as many bonds as needed to stabilize financial markets
and backstop direct loans to companies.*:nL1N2BG0ED
    "Extraordinary steps by the Fed this week, including
uncapping the size of asset purchases and buying investment
grade bonds, should push real interest rates deeper into
negative territory and in turn support demand for real assets
like gold," said UBS commodities analyst Giovanni Staunovo in a
    Gold market participants remained concerned about a supply
squeeze following a sharp divergence in London and New York
prices as the coronavirus closed precious metals refineries.
    U.S. exchange operator CME Group  CME.O  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.*:nL8N2BI5UK
    U.S. gold futures  GCcv1  settled up 1.1% at $1,651.20 per
ounce, and held above the London spot  XAU=  contract.
    Palladium  XPD=  rose 0.9% to $2,336.62 per ounce, a day
after posting its largest daily gain since 1997 as a lockdown in
major producer South Africa exacerbated supply woes.*:nL4N2BI4C4
    Platinum  XPT=  slipped 0.8% to $732.07, while silver  XAG= 
rose 0.2% to $14.45.

Spot gold and U.S. jobless claims data
 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru;
Editing by Richard Chang and Diane Craft)
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