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NEW YORK: Gold prices gained on Wednesday, aided by a retreat in the dollar and lingering fears that the Omicron coronavirus variant could throw a wrench in the global economic recovery.

Spot gold was last up 0.7% at $1,801.24 per ounce by 1839 GMT. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.8% at $1,802.20.

Although analysts played down Omicron’s potential impact, more countries announced restrictions to reduce the variant’s spread, somewhat dampening investor appetite for riskier assets.

There is some buying interest from a slight retreat in the U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar, said Jim Wyckoff, a senior analyst at Kitco Metals, who attributed the uptick to a “corrective bounce.”

While the Omicron scare has probably run its course in the market, it is still positive for gold because it is going to allow traders to focus on other things like rising inflation and a clearer monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, Wyckoff said.

The dollar index inched lower, boosting bullion’s appeal for buyers holding other currencies, and U.S. Treasury yields also eased.

Investors also took stock of data showing U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the third quarter amid a flare-up in COVID-19 infections, although activity has since picked up, putting the economy on track to record its best performance this year since 1984.

But “with trading volume thin and major players away ahead of the year, the gold market is expected to be choppy,” Phillip Futures analyst Avtar Sandu said in a note.

Spot silver gained 1.2% to $22.76 per ounce, platinum jumped 3.8% to $970.20 and palladium rose 5.8% to $1,896.01.

Palladium is set for one last rally next year as a revival in the auto sector boosts demand for the metal used in engine exhausts, before the rise of electric vehicles sends prices into long-term decline.

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