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Gold climbs to seven-year high on growth fears, stimulus measures

By Brijesh Patel
FILE PHOTO: A gold ingot and gold coins are seen in this illustration picture

By Brijesh Patel

(Reuters) - Gold prices rose to their highest in more than seven years on Tuesday as concerns over global economic growth and a wave of stimulus measures from central banks and governments lifted bullion's appeal.

Spot gold was up 0.4% at $1,721.54 per ounce at 1202 GMT, having touched its highest since November 2012. U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,761.80.

Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures from central banks, as it is often seen as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement. Lower interest rates also cut the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

"The flood of new money digitally printed by the central banks and huge debt pile by the states to fight the negative impact of the coronavirus (are) helping gold," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch

"Uncertainty (due to the virus) continues and supports the safe-haven demand, along with the continued huge inflow into the gold-backed exchange traded funds."

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed ETF, rose to 1,009.70 tonnes on Monday, the highest since June 2013.

Gold's rise came alongside gains in global equities after Chinese trade data came in better than expected and some countries tried to restart their economies by partly lifting restrictions aimed at containing the outbreak.

Bullion has on occasion moved in tandem with stock markets this year, with recent sharp sell-offs prompting investors to sell precious metals to cover their losses elsewhere.

Enough safe-haven demand remains for gold to counter pressure from any further weakness in stocks going into the company earnings season, said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

Many nations have rolled out fiscal and monetary support to prop up their economies hit by the virus, which has infected more than 1.88 million people globally and killed 119,168.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced a $2.3 trillion stimulus package, while European Union finance ministers have agreed on half-a-trillion euros worth of economic support.

A steep economic downturn and massive coronavirus rescue spending will nearly quadruple the fiscal 2020 U.S. budget deficit to a record $3.8 trillion, 18.7% of U.S. economic output, a Washington-based watchdog group said on Monday.

Further supporting bullion, the dollar slipped against a basket major currencies.

"On the technical side, (gold) prices could jump higher towards $1,730 if a solid weekly close above $1,700 is achieved. Alternatively, sustained weakness below may... open the doors back towards $1,675," FXTM analysts said in a note.

Other precious metals also rose, with palladium gaining 2.9% to $2,251.57 per ounce. Silver rose 0.6% to $15.54, and platinum climbed 3.1% to $771.22.

(Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey and Mark Potter)