PRECIOUS-Gold eyes best month in four years as weak U.S. data slams dollar

    * Silver set for best month on record
    * Dollar drops to over two-year low, eyes worst month in
    * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus:
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    By Brijesh Patel
    July 31 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Friday en route to its best
month in more than four years as the dollar slid further after
dismal U.S. data added to doubts about a swift recovery from the
pandemic-induced economic slump, driving investors towards the
safe-haven metal.
    Spot gold        was up 0.4% at $1,966.31 per ounce by 0251
GMT after snapping a nine-session winning streak in the previous
session. U.S. gold futures         rose 1% to $1,959.70.
    The U.S. dollar        fell to a two-year low and was on
course for its worst month in a decade, making bullion cheaper
for investors holding other currencies.       
    Apart from U.S. data showing the deepest economic
contraction in at least 73 years in the second quarter, and a
rise in unemployment benefits, the dollar was also hurt as 
President Donald Trump raised the idea of delaying the Nov. 3
presidential election.                           
    "The weak Q2 GDP also underscores the point of a weak
economy, and investors seeking refuge in gold," said National
Australia Bank economist John Sharma.
    A deterioration in the coronavirus situation, escalation in
geopolitical tensions and further declines in the dollar could
push gold above the $2,000 level, he added.
    Gold has risen more than 10% so far this month, its biggest
monthly percentage gain since February 2016, having soared to an
all-time high of $1,980.57 on Tuesday.
    The jump took its gains for the year to nearly 30%, driven
by a worsening pandemic and low interest rates globally amid
widespread stimulus from central banks since the metal is
considered a refuge against inflation and currency debasement.
    "However, further gains are reliant on investor demand, with
consumer demand showing no signs of recovery," ANZ analysts said
in a note.         
    Among other metals, silver was up 0.1% at $23.56 an ounce,
on course for its best month on record -- at 30%, with
additional support coming from hopes for a revival in industrial
    Platinum        eased 0.2% to $900.82 and palladium       
dropped 0.5% to $2,073.54.

 (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu
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