PRECIOUS-Gold gains as uncertainty over Trump’s response to China spurs demand

* Gold up more than 3% so far for May

* Silver hits peak since Feb. 27 at $17.90/oz

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global coronavirus spread, open in an external browser (Updates prices)

By Eileen Soreng

May 29 (Reuters) – Gold rose 1% on Friday as caution set in with investors awaiting U.S. President Donald Trump’s response to a Chinese national security law for Hong Kong and its potential impact on an already fragile global economy.

Spot gold climbed 0.9% to $1,734.70 per ounce by 1:44 p.m. EDT (1744 GMT).

U.S. gold futures settled up 1.4% at $1,751.70.

“Markets are now strictly focused on the two largest economies and what is likely going to be a long, drawn-out battle,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at broker OANDA.

“You’re going to continue to see safe-haven demand (for gold) because the uncertainty over how the U.S.-China tensions are going to play out is extremely high.”

Trump is expected to hold a news conference on China later on Friday as his administration moves to pressure Beijing over its treatment of Hong Kong.

Mounting fears over the economic toll from the coronavirus, exacerbated by the widening U.S.-China rift, and a resultant environment of low interest rates globally have put safe-haven bullion on track for an over 3% monthly gain.

“Stock market gains are likely to cap gold’s upward momentum, however, gold prices have risen amid a risk-on environment and a risk-off environment,” said Standard Chartered Bank analyst Suki Cooper. “There is good downside support around $1,700 and resistance around $1,765.”

Wall Street’s main indexes fell on Friday, bolstering gold’s appeal.

Elsewhere, silver gained 2.5% to $17.86 an ounce. Prices were up 18.8% for the month, the biggest gain since January 2012.

Global efforts to restart economies could boost silver demand, making prices of the metal, which slipped to an all-time low relative to gold during the crisis, likely to rebound strongly.

Palladium fell 1% to $1,911.54 an ounce. Platinum slipped 0.8% to $831.90 but was on track for its best month since August 2019. (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Brown, Dan Grebler and Diane Craft)

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