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PRECIOUS-Gold soars past $1,600/ounce after Iran attack on U.S. forces

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Jan 8 (Reuters) - Gold prices surged more than 2% on Wednesday, crossing the key $1,600 mark, as investors sought cover in the safe-haven metal after Iran fired rockets at Iraqi airbase which hosts U.S. forces.


FUNDAMENTALS
* Spot gold climbed 1.9% to $1,603.21 per ounce by 0056 GMT. Prices hit their highest since March 2013 at $1,610.90 earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures rose 2% to $1,605.80.


* The jump in the price of what's viewed by investors as a safer asset in times of political and economic uncertainty came after Iran's missile attack on U.S.-led forces in Iraq early on Wednesday. The attack came hours after the funeral of an Iranian commander whose killing in a U.S. drone strike has raised fears of a wider conflict in the Middle East.
* The United States confirmed reports of the attack by Iran and said President Donald Trump had been briefed and the situation was being monitored.
* On the trade front, in a move that would make it tough for Beijing to meet import commitments in its 'Phase 1' trade deal with the United States, China will not increase its annual low-tariff import quotas for corn, wheat and rice to accommodate additional purchases of U.S. farm goods.
* Elsewhere, palladium hit a fresh all-time peak of $2,056.01 an ounce earlier in the session on a sustained supply deficit, and was last down 0.6% to $2,040.57.


* Silver jumped 1.2% to $18.60 per ounce, after hitting its highest since late September at $18.71, while platinum advanced 0.3% to $973.95. DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 0700 Germany Industrial Orders MM Nov 0745 France Reserve Assets Total Dec 0830 UK Halifax House Prices MM Dec 1000 EU Consumer Confid. Final Dec (Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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