PRECIOUS-Gold set for weekly gain with market focus on U.S. jobs data


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      U.S. non-farm payrolls data due at 1330 GMT

      Silver, platinum also bound for weekly gains

 (Updates prices and adds details)
    By Arundhati Sarkar
       Dec 2 (Reuters) - Gold eased into a tight range on
Friday as cautious investors positioned themselves for U.S. jobs
data, but safe-haven bullion was still bound for a second
straight weekly gain on expectations of a moderation in the pace
of U.S. rate hikes.
    Spot gold  XAU=  fell 0.3% to $1,797.98 per ounce by 1255
GMT, after earlier hitting its highest since Aug. 10 at
$1,804.46. U.S. gold futures  GCv1  were down 0.2% at $1,812.20.
    The U.S. Labor Department's non-farm payrolls (NFP) data is
due at 1330 GMT.
    "A number disappointing to the downside, which could further
reduce the scope and scale of the Federal Reserve's tightening
drive, would likely create more dollar weakness and therefore
support gold prices," said Ricardo Evangelista, senior analyst
at ActivTrades.
    However, a surprisingly high number of new jobs created in
November, which would embolden the hawks in the Fed, and create
upside for the dollar, would pressure gold, Evangelista added.
    Gold prices have risen 2.5% so far this week, as the rival
safe-haven dollar headed for a weekly loss of about 1%. A softer
greenback makes dollar-priced gold cheaper for overseas buyers. 
    Bullion also got a fillip from Fed Chair Jerome Powell's
comments earlier this week that it was time to slow rate hikes. 
    Rising rates have kept a hold on gold's traditional status
as an inflation hedge this year, as they translate into higher
opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding metal.  FEDWATCH 
    "The fact that gold has been able to make significant gains
in November and then carried that momentum into December
illustrates the depth of support that has built up for the
metal," Kinesis Money analyst Rupert Rowling said.
    Spot silver  XAG=  fell 0.4% to $22.67 per ounce while
platinum  XPT=  dropped 1.9% to $1,022.05, although both were
set for weekly gains. 
     Palladium  XPD=  dropped 1.7% to $1,907.64, but was on
track to snap a two-week losing streak.
 (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan
Fenton and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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