Gold prices rose sharply on Thursday on demand for the safe-haven asset after equities and the dollar lost ground amid worries about the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy.

The dollar index drifted down to 96.72 about an hour past noon, and was last seen at 96.84, down more than 0.5% from previous close.

Gold futures for April ended up $25.00, or about 1.5%, at $1,668.00 an ounce, the highest settlement in more than a week.

On Wednesday, gold futures for April ended down $1.40, or 0.1%, at $1,643.00 an ounce, after rising to a high of $1,654.30 earlier in the session.

Silver futures for May ended up $0.147 at $17.393 an ounce, while Copper futures for May settled lower by $0.0130 at $2.5730 per pound.

The coronavirus continued to spread rapidly in several countries, although the number of new infections due to the virus continued to drop in China.

Italy has confirmed that schools will be shut for ten days. In the U.S., California declared a state of emergency as a cruise ship was held off the coast over fears of a new outbreak.

Elsewhere in South Korea, total infections stood at 6,088. Japan is to impose two weeks’ quarantine on arrivals from its neighbor, while Australia announced an entry ban on foreigners who have recently been in South Korea.

China’s deaths from the new COVID-19 illness have surpassed 3,000 though new cases have fallen steadily.

China and Japan have agreed to postpone President Xi Jinping’s visit, expected in April, because of coronavirus worries.

In economic news, the report said initial jobless claims edged down to 216,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 219,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to slip to 215,000.

Revised data released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed U.S. labor productivity increased by less than initially estimated in the fourth quarter of 2019. The report said labor productivity climbed by 1.2% in the fourth quarter compared to the previously reported 1.4% jump. Economists had expected the pace of productivity growth to be unrevised from the initial estimate.

The Commerce Department said factory orders slid by 0.5% in January after surging up by 1.9% in December. Economists had expected factory orders to edge down by 0.1%.

The material has been provided by InstaForex Company – www.instaforex.com