PRECIOUS-Gold climbed 1.5% on U.S. stimulus bet, dipping dollar

 (New throughout, adds comments, updates prices)
    * Bank of England keeps stimulus programme unchanged
    * U.S. weekly initial jobless claims rise further
    * Dollar hovers near a two-and-a-half-year low
    * Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus:
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    By Shreyansi Singh
    Dec 17 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose over 1% to a one-month
peak on Thursday as the dollar spiralled lower on hopes of more
coronavirus relief aid and the U.S. Federal Reserve's pledge to
funnel more cash and keep interest rates pinned low.
    Spot gold        jumped 1.5% to $1,892.31 per ounce at 9:59
a.m. EST (1459 GMT), having hit a one-month high of $1,895.81
earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures        were up 2.1% at
    "A combination of an additional stimulus package along with
additional bond buying and asset purchases from the Fed has
clearly driven gold and silver prices higher," said David Meger,
director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.
    An additional stimulus relief package is weighing on the
dollar due to more money being pumped into the supply, Meger
    Lawmakers sought to hammer out a $900 billion COVID-19 aid
bill with a Friday deadline to avert a government shutdown
looming, buoying gold prices and sending the dollar to a multi
year trough.                    
    With interest rates anchored at zero, the Fed vowed to keep
pumping cash into financial markets until the U.S. economy's
recovery is secure.             
    Bullion, considered a hedge against inflation and currency
debasement, has risen over 24% so far this year amid the
unprecedented stimulus unleashed globally.
    Raising concerns over the U.S. economy's recovery, the
number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless
benefits unexpectedly rose last week as mounting COVID-19
infections battered business operations.             
    "Fundamentally, gold is still quite strong and if it closes
above $1,880 an ounce today we might see it going up to $1,950
before the year ends," said Ravindra Rao, vice president,
commodities at Kotak Securities.
    The Bank of England kept its stimulus programme unchanged as
it awaited the outcome of Britain's trade deal talks with the
European Union.             
    In other metals, silver        rose 2.5% to $25.98 an ounce.
Platinum        gained 1.2% to $1,047.09 and palladium       
was up 0.8% at $2,344.72. 

 (Reporting by Shreyansi Singh in Bengaluru
Editing by Alexandra Hudson)