Gold prices firmed above the key $US1,800 level overnight, underpinned by concerns over mounting coronavirus cases globally as many regions reintroduced curbs to restrict the outbreak.

Spot gold gained 0.4 per cent to $US1,809.83 per ounce by 1825 GMT. US gold futures settled mostly unchanged at $US1,813.40.

“There’s an anticipation of more widespread shutdowns which is drawing people back to gold to hedge against the uncertainty,” said Jeffrey Sica, founder of Circle Squared Alternative Investments.

“There’s going to be a high likelihood that we’ll see the US Federal Reserve not only continue with the economic stimulus programmes, but in some cases accelerate them so that helps gold prices significantly.”

Many parts of Asia are finding cause to pause the reopening of their economies as a jump in virus cases fans fears of a second wave, while California clamped new restrictions on businesses as infections soared.

The World Health Organisation on Monday warned the pandemic would only get worse if countries failed to adhere to strict precautions.

Gold prices have risen over 19 per cent so far this year, mainly benefiting from lower interest rates and widespread stimulus measures from major central banks as it is widely viewed as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.

The dollar fell as the euro rose on optimism about the possibility of a European Union stimulus package.

Investors kept an eye on a growing US-China rift over the South China Sea region, with Beijing’s announcement that it will slap sanctions on Lockheed Martin for involvement in the latest US arms sale to Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

Reflecting investor appetite, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.3 per cent to 1,203.97 tonnes on Monday.

Elsewhere, palladium eased 0.7 per cent to $US1,966.50 an ounce and platinum edged down 0.3 per cent to $US826.05.

Silver gained 0.4 per cent to $US19.16, after hitting its highest level since September 2019 on Monday.