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Gold prices steady as market awaits U.S. employment report

By Eileen Soreng
FILE PHOTO: Gold bars and coins at the Pro Aurum gold house in Munich

By Eileen Soreng

(Reuters) - Gold prices were little changed on Thursday, following a jump of more than 1% in the previous session, as investors awaited more data with which to gauge U.S. economic health and that could influence further U.S. Federal Reserve action on interest rates.

Spot gold was steady at $1,498.89 per ounce, as of 0758 GMT, while U.S. gold futures dipped 0.3% to $1,502.9 per ounce.

"After the sharp gains we are seeing some minor pullbacks on profit-booking, while sentiment in the gold market remains positive," said Jigar Trivedi, a commodities analyst at Mumbai-based Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers.

The precious metal jumped 1.4% on Wednesday after disappointing hiring by U.S. private employers unnerved investors already concerned about slowing growth in the world's largest economy.

"Gold is clearly being used as a hedge against volatility in other markets," said OANDA analyst Jeffrey Halley.

With negative investor sentiment on global growth and trade and the meltdown in equity markets, there has been a flight to safe havens, Halley said.

The private jobs data came ahead of the more comprehensive U.S. nonfarm payrolls report due on Friday, adding to the gloom prompted by a survey that showed manufacturing activity in the United States tumbled to a more than 10-year low in September.

The disappointing readings weighed on the dollar, which hit near one-week lows against the euro and yen.

Besides the nonfarm payrolls report due on Friday, investors also keeping an eye out for September's U.S. non-manufacturing ISM (Institute for Supply Management) survey due at 1400 GMT on Thursday.

"If the (data) comes out much lower than expected then the run for the door will become an unruly stampede, and we could see a meltdown in stocks and that will be positive for gold," Halley said.

Adding to market concerns, the United States won approval on Wednesday to levy tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European goods over illegal subsidies handed to Airbus, threatening to trigger a transatlantic trade war.

On the technical front, spot gold may end its bounce in a range of $1,514-$1,524 per ounce, as suggested by a retracement analysis and a falling channel, according to Reuters analyst Wang Tao.

Indicative of investor interest, holdings at SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.32% to 923.76 tonnes on Wednesday.

Among other precious metals, platinum was up 0.2% at $888.38 per ounce, and silver rose 0.1% to $17.56 an ounce.

Palladium was up 0.2% at $1,690.18 per ounce.


(Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V, Aditya Soni and Tom Hogue)