PRECIOUS-Gold firms as dollar continues slide

 (Updates prices)
    * Platinum hits a peak since Jan. 16 at $1,032/oz
    * Dollar hits lowest level since April 2018
    * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus:

    By Eileen Soreng
    Dec 3 (Reuters) - Gold prices extended gains on Thursday as
the dollar fell to a 2-1/2 year low while investors grew
optimistic of an eventual breakthrough in negotiations over a
fresh U.S. coronavirus aid package.
    Spot gold        rose 0.6% to $1,841.30 per ounce by 1214
GMT, having earlier hit its highest since Nov. 23 at $1,843.11.
U.S. gold futures        were up 0.8% to $1,844.50. 
    "The dollar has been losing ground especially versus the
euro, pushing gold prices higher," said Julius Baer analyst
Carsten Menke.
    "It's not your typical safe haven demand because there is
broad based economic optimism at the moment related to the
vaccine situation." 
    Hopes of a stimulus deal and optimism over vaccine progress
pushed the U.S. dollar to its lowest since April 2018, making
bullion cheaper to holders of other currencies.       
    Although U.S. lawmakers were unable to agree on a fresh
relief package, early signs indicate that a $908 billion
bipartisan proposal could be gaining traction as a negotiating
    On Wednesday Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell repeated
his plea for Congress to provide more aid until a vaccine allows
for a broader resumption of commerce.             
    Given the level of monetary debasement, gold could rise to
$1,875-$1,880 in December, said Kunal Shah, head of research at
Nirmal Bang Commodities in Mumbai, India.
    Gold, considered a hedge against inflation and currency
debasement, has gained 21% this year, benefiting mainly from
unprecedented stimulus unveiled to cushion the pandemic's
    Elsewhere, platinum hit a near eleven-month peak at $1,032
per ounce. It was last up 1.4% to $1,028.81.
    Platinum has consolidated above $1,000 on positive global
growth sentiment, with initial targets extending towards $1,040
as ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) interest drives price action on
the back of forecasted deficits in 2021, MKS PAMP said in a
    Palladium        rose 0.5% to $2,409.82 per ounce and silver
       was up 0.5% to $24.22.

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru;
editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and David Evans)

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