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Gold recovers after biggest weekly drop this year

Gold bullion is displayed at Hatton Garden Metals precious metal dealers in London, Britain July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall/Files

By Marcy Nicholson and Jan Harvey

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold recovered on Monday from its biggest weekly drop since November after downbeat U.S. payrolls data on Friday dampened speculation of a near-term interest rate hike and as Chinese buyers returned after the Golden Week holiday.

The metal slid 4.5 percent last week, touching a four-month low of $1,241.20 an ounce on Friday, after a break of support at $1,300 unleashed a wave of technically-driven selling.

Spot gold (XAU=) was up 0.2 percent at $1,259.48 an ounce by 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT), while U.S. gold futures (GCv1) for December delivery settled up 0.7 percent at $1,260.40 per ounce.

"Traders love to bag a bargain, even if it is a short term trade," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets.

"The support at $1,233 is under a major focus and it could be retested if the upcoming U.S. retail sales data due this week prints a strong number, as this will fuel further speculation that the Fed will increase the interest rate this year."

Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

"The pundits are still talking up a Federal Reserve hike for December but it doesn't look that likely," said Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice president of Heraeus Metal Management in New York.

"The market is very quiet but at the same time it may be that Chinese returning from their holidays saw the metal prices as a bargain and began buying."

China, which celebrated the Golden Week holiday last week, is the world's biggest consumer of physical gold.

Meanwhile, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), reported the biggest one-day rise in its holdings since early July on Friday, of 11.3 tonnes.

Gains in gold were capped however by a perception that Democrat Hillary Clinton had won out over Republican Donald Trump in the second U.S. presidential debate overnight. A Trump victory would have been seen as beneficial for gold, analysts said, as it would increase uncertainty.

Among other precious metals, silver (XAG=) was up 0.7 percent at $17.63 an ounce. It fell 8.5 percent last week, its biggest weekly drop in more than three years.

Platinum (XPT=) was down 0.2 percent at $962.40, having touched $946.40 on Friday, its lowest since April 7. Palladium (XPD=) snapped a five session fall, and was 0.3 percent higher at $666.90.

(Additional reporting by Swati Verma and Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir and Tom Brown)