Gold rose overnight after US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell pledged more stimulus measures, if required, to ease the economic blow from the novel coronavirus.

Powell said the United States could face an “extended period” of weak growth and stagnant incomes and issued a call for more fiscal spending.

Spot gold gained 0.5 per cent to $US1,709.75 per ounce by 1800 GMT. Prices rose as much as 0.9 per cent but eased after Powell rejected the idea of using negative interest rates as a stimulative tool.

US gold futures settled 0.6 per cent higher at $US1,716.40.

“The Fed has a number of other options, so it’s possible we could see additional quantitative easing or continued policies that would allow for a positive backdrop for the gold market,” said Standard Chartered Bank analyst Suki Cooper.

“We expect interest rates globally to remain low, and negative in some countries, and that continues to provide a favourable backdrop for gold.”

The US economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, as citizens were compelled to stay home and businesses closed to curb the spread of the virus, which has infected 4.31 million people worldwide.

Central banks and governments have unleashed unprecedented fiscal and monetary support for economies reeling from the pandemic.

Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures as it is considered a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.

The US dollar index was steady, while US stocks fell after Powell’s remarks.

“Even as we see the potential for gold market liquidation and broad asset market drawdowns in the next 3-6 months, we think gold trading will still mostly hover in a high-$US1,600 to mid-$US1,700 handle,” Citi Research said in a note.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, were at a seven-year high.

Elsewhere, palladium slipped 2.8 per cent to $US1,808.54 per ounce, having earlier fallen to a one-week low of $US1,761.80.

Demand for the autocatalyst has been squeezed by low car sales globally, with rating agency Moody’s projecting a 20 per cent drop in auto unit sales this year.

“While palladium has not escaped unscathed from the broad risk reduction in terms of asset classes” the net impact of supply disruptions and demand shocks would still leave the market in a deficit, but not to the magnitude expected at the start of the year, Standard Chartered’s Cooper said.

Silver rose 0.3 per cent to $US15.45, and platinum climbed 0.8 per cent to $US759.29.

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