* China economy grew 3.2% in Q2, but retail sales fell
* European Central Bank policy decision at 1145 GMT
* GRAPHIC-2020 asset returns: http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl
* Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser (Adds comments, details, updates prices)
By Arpan Varghese
July 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady near a nine-year peak on Thursday, as concerns over rising coronavirus cases and simmering U.S.-China tensions offset some silver linings from Chinese economic data.
U.S. gold futures
China's economy grew 3.2% in the second-quarter from a year earlier, data showed on Thursday, recovering from a record contraction as lockdown measures ended and policymakers stepped up stimulus.
But separate data showed that while the country's industrial output beat expectations in June, retail sales unexpectedly fell again, pointing to waning consumer demand.
Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets said the data was mixed out of China and gold's elevated levels reflect ongoing concern from some segments of investors about the growth outlook for the rest of the year.
The positive readings from China failed to help risk sentiment, which was overshadowed by a growing Sino-U.S. rift over the control of advanced technologies and civil liberties in Hong Kong. [MKTS/GLOB]
Safe-haven gold has risen over 19% so far this year, also benefiting from low interest rates and widespread stimulus as it's seen as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement, although market participants were still divided on the outlook for inflation.
Investor focus now shifts to European Central Bank policy decision at 1145 GMT.
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