• Gold up 3% so far for May
  • Silver hits peak since Feb. 28 at $17.85/oz
  • For an interactive graphic tracking the global coronavirus spread

Gold rose 1% on Friday as caution set in with investors awaiting US President Donald Trump's response to a Chinese national security law for Hong Kong and its potential impact on an already fragile global economy.

Spot gold climbed 0.9% to $1,734.60 per ounce by 12:42 p.m. EDT (1642 GMT).

US gold futures rose 1.3% to $1,750.20.

“Markets are now strictly focused on the two largest economies and what is likely going to be a long, drawn-out battle," said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at broker OANDA.

“You're going to continue to see safe-haven demand (for gold) because the uncertainty over how the US-China tensions are going to play out is extremely high."

Trump is expected to hold a news conference on China later on Friday as his administration moves to pressure Beijing over its treatment of Hong Kong.

Mounting fears over the economic toll from the coronavirus, exacerbated by the widening US-China rift, and a resultant environment of low interest rates globally have put safe-haven bullion on track for a 3% monthly gain.

“Stock market gains are likely to cap gold's upward momentum, however, gold prices have risen amid a risk-on environment and a risk-off environment," said Standard Chartered Bank analyst Suki Cooper. “There is good downside support around $1,700 and resistance around $1,765."

Wall Street's main indexes fell on Friday, bolstering gold's appeal.

Elsewhere, silver gained 2.3% to $17.81 an ounce. Prices were up 18.7% for the month, the biggest gain since January 2012.

Global efforts to restart economies could boost silver demand, making prices of the metal, which slipped to an all-time low relative to gold during the crisis, likely to rebound strongly.

Palladium rose 0.1% to $1,933.59 an ounce. Platinum slipped 0.9% to $830.92 but was on track for its best month since August 2019.