(Reuters) – Gold prices edged lower on Monday as equities firmed, while expectations for more economic stimulus measures limited losses.
* Spot gold eased 0.3% to $1,722.49 per ounce by 0135 GMT. U.S. gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,742.60.
* Asian shares inched higher ahead of a busy week for earnings and central bank meetings, with speculation that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will announce more stimulus steps.
* The BOJ is expected to expand monetary stimulus for the second straight month aimed at combating the deepening economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
* Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures as it is often seen as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.
* Against key rivals, the U.S. dollar inched down, but hovered close to a near three-week peak touched on Friday, making gold costlier for investors using other currencies.
* Investors are pinning their hopes for the reopening of the U.S. economy on the potential for wider availability of testing for COVID-19 cases and on drug trials for treatments of the disease but said, until there is concrete progress in these areas, further stock market gains may be limited.
* Another wave of states prepared to ease coronavirus restrictions on U.S. commerce this week, while the White House forecast a staggering jump in the nation’s monthly jobless rate.
* UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to his residence on Sunday after recovering from COVID-19, with pressure growing for the government to explain how it will ease a month-old coronavirus lockdown.
* Shares of gold miners and funds dealing in the precious metal have rallied in recent weeks as the virus crisis rocked global markets and investors raced to buy safe-haven assets.
* Retail demand for physical gold suffered last week in top Asian hubs as jewellery shops remained shut due to coronavirus restrictions, but some regions saw steady buying from investors hunting for a safe haven.
* Holdings of the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, rose 0.6% to 1,048.31 tonnes on Friday from 1,042.46 tonnes on Thursday.
* Palladium rose 0.4% to $2,032.80 per ounce, while platinum gained 0.8% to $766.04 and silver was flat at $15.24.
(Reporting by Shreyansi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)