By Barani Krishnan

Investing.com - Gold prices settled little changed near $1,750 per ounce Monday as investors tried to balance violent protests across the United States with hopes that the world’s largest economy would emerge fully from coronavirus lockdowns.

The yellow metal also gave up strong early gains after vaccine maker Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) started a Phase 2 study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) kicked off its Phase 1 study for a potential antibody treatment. 

U.S. gold futures for August settled down $1.40, or 0.01%, at $1,750.30 per ounce on Comex. On Friday, gold futures settled above $1,700 the first time since November 2012, gaining 2.5% for all of May for a third straight monthly gain.

Spot gold, which tracks real-time trades in bullion, was up $9.28, or 0.5%, at $1,738.35 by 3:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT).

“Gold prices are underperforming despite rising expectations that the U.S.-China phase-one trade deal is about to get ripped up and as widespread protests across the U.S. add to the concern a second wave of coronavirus could hit major U.S. cities,” said Ed Moya, an analyst at New York’s OANDA.

“Yet, Gold’s outlook is still bullish and will remain supported by the Fed’s put,” Moya said, referring to the Federal Reserve's stimulus actions, worth trillions of dollars, in response to Covid-19. “Fresh stimulus prospects and rising uncertainties with the global economic outlook should drive gold prices higher in the short-term.”

Tens of thousands of people swarmed the streets of U.S. cities on Saturday and Sunday to express their outrage and sorrow over the killing of George Floyd, a black man in police custody in Minneapolis. 

The unrest, with reports of shootings, looting, and vandalism in some cities, has confounded mayors and governors as they attempt to reopen the economies of U.S. states and cities that were shut down over the past three months by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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