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Gold inched up on Thursday on worries about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak as the United States suspended travel from virus-hit Europe, although gains were capped as traders covered margin calls after a plunge in equities.
Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,636.37 per ounce by 0415 GMT, having risen as much as 0.9% earlier in the session. US gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,636.30.
The travel ban "is a big surprise and a big shock to the market" and shows that investors are yet to see the full financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, said IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda. On the flip side, traders are selling gold to fund margin calls, providing a headwind for the metal, Rodda added.
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced the suspension of all travel from Europe, except from the United Kingdom, to the United States for 30 days, leading to a sell-off in global stock markets and the dollar.
Britain on Saturday denounced Iran's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf as a "hostile act" and rejected Tehran's explanation that it seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident.
The overall death toll jumped to more than 5,000, including nearly 1,500 in Europe, with total infections topping 140,000 internationally, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.
The coronavirus outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the globe, infecting nearly 200,000 people and killing 7,900 as governments scramble to contain it.
Risk sentiment was also undermined after Federal Reserve officials expressed concern that rising coronavirus cases could harm economic growth just as stimulus measures start to expire.
A string of positive indicators from China to the US in recent weeks — as well hopes for a vaccine and the easing of lockdowns around the world — has added fuel to a global rally that has lifted equities out of the March depths.
Across Pakistan's "mango belt" in Punjab and Sindh provinces, farmers say a long winter and changing rain patterns have slashed production by up to half this year -- just as virus shutdowns sparked border restrictions and spiralling export costs.
The United Arab Emirates stock markets closed higher on Tuesday, led by financials and property shares. Dubai’s main share index gained 0.5%, led by a 1.5% rise in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 0.5% gain in Emirates NBD Bank.