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PRECIOUS-Gold eases after U.S. jobless claims; recession fears cap losses

Logo - The Daily Drill - Digging Deep for precious metal news

(Updates prices)

* U.S. weekly jobless claims top 5.2 million in latest week

* India's gold demand could hit 3-decade low in 2020

* Interactive graphic tracking the global spread: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser

By Sumita Layek

April 16 (Reuters) - Gold fell after climbing 1.3% earlier on Thursday, as safe-haven demand weakened after U.S. jobless claims rose less than a week ago and hopes grew for an easing of coronavirus-led curbs.

Spot gold eased 0.2% at $1,711.29 per ounce by 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT). U.S. gold futures settled down 0.5% to $1,731.70.

"With the talk of how governments are going to reopen economies ... gold seems to be focused on moving past the peak of the pandemic. So from the perspective that there are some brighter skies ahead we're seeing some pullback," said David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

"But the main story continues to be that gold has been fairly well supported in an environment where we're seeing unprecedented amount of central bank and fiscal stimulus from governments around the world," Meger added.

U.S. data showed 5.2 million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, down from a slightly revised 6.6 million the week before, but lifting total filings for claims over the past month above an astounding 20 million.

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to announce new guidelines to reopen the economy after a month-long shutdown over the outbreak, despite concerns from health experts, governors and business leaders about a resurgence in cases without more testing and protocols in place.

Further weighing on gold, the dollar index hit a one-week high against rivals.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc in global markets, stalling life and economic activity across the world, infecting more than 2 million and killing 136,667.

"The health, financial and economic uncertainties generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath are likely to continue to support gold's rally well into 2021," James Steel, chief precious metals analyst at HSBC said in a note.

"We believe low interest rates, monetary accommodation and fiscal spending across the world for the foreseeable future will cement and extend gold's rally, as investors target bullion for its hard asset characteristics and liquidity."

Physical gold consumption in India, the second largest buyer of the precious metal, could hit a three-decade low in 2020 as a nationwide lockdown has closed jewelry stores during key festivals and the wedding season.

Among other precious metals, palladium fell 1.1% to $2,156.58 an ounce, and platinum rose 0.1% to $780.43. Silver fell 0.6 to $15.38 per ounce. (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Richard Chang)

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