Gold Declines on Virus Severity

Gold edged lower on Friday as investors sought details on the severity of the China virus after the World Health Organisation stopped short of announcing the outbreak as a global emergency.

Prices for the shiny yellow metal fell 0.2% to $1,559.28 U.S. per ounce, but was on track to gain 0.2% for the week. U.S. gold futures slipped 0.4% to $1,559.30.

Asian shares inched higher following the WHO statement on Thursday that the new China virus does not yet constitute an international emergency.

However, investors remained concerned about the spread of the virus ahead of the Lunar New Year, a peak period of travel and gold demand in the region.

Data on Thursday showed, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased less than expected last week, suggesting the labor market continues to tighten.

Further weighing on bullion, the dollar against a basket of currencies, hovered near a month high hit in the previous session after the European Central Bank kept interest rates steady on Thursday.

Elsewhere, palladium dipped 0.8% to $2,441.04 U.S. an ounce, and was on track to register its worst week in five, falling about 1.6%.

Silver shed 0.1% to $17.77 U.S. and was set to post its biggest weekly decline since early-December at 1.2%. Platinum rose 0.2% to $1,003.53 U.S., but was down 1.4% for the week, its worst since the week ended Dec. 20.