Gold soared nearly 2.0 per cent to hit its highest since late 2012, with investors rushing to the safety of bullion as the coronavirus ravaged economies worldwide and triggered the rollout of huge stimulus plans.

Spot gold gained 1.3 per cent to $US1,735.85 per ounce, having earlier jumped as much as 1.9 per cent to $US1,746.50.

US gold futures settled up 0.4 per cent to $US1,768.90, after hitting their highest level since February 2013 at $US1,788.80.

“There’s a lot of safe-haven buying. It’s the recession/depression concerns that are out there right now. The economic outlook looks pretty dire,” said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

“The US Fed just created $US2 trillion last week and other central banks around the world are doing the same; interest rates are at or near zero, there’s a lot of concern out there and it’s just a perfect environment for gold to trade up north of $US2,000.”

The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0 per cent during 2020 in a coronavirus-driven collapse of activity that will mark the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund said.

The contagion, which has infected more than 1.88 million people globally and killed 119,168, has forced countries to shut activity and prompted central banks to unleash support measures.

A steep economic downturn and massive coronavirus rescue spending will nearly quadruple the fiscal 2020 US budget deficit to a record $US3.8 trillion, a Washington-based watchdog group said on Monday.

Reflecting sentiment, holdings of 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 as some countries tried to restart their economies by partly lifting restrictions aimed at containing the pandemic.

Global recession forecasts combined with the rapid pace of governmental money-printing is boosting activity in gold, INTL FCStone analyst Rhona O’Connell said in a note.

“The metals markets as a whole are trading on the front foot. Lively Chinese trade figures are helping the base metals sector and the PGMs (Platinum Group Metals).”

Palladium jumped 1.2 per cent to $US2,215.03 per ounce, while platinum climbed 3.6 per cent to $US775.51.

Both metals rose over 5.0 per cent earlier in the session.

Silver gained 2.3 per cent to $US15.80.

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