PRECIOUS-Gold falls as dollar strengthens ahead of US jobs data

Fri Nov 2, 2012 5:06pm IST

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* Traders focus on U.S. non-farm payrolls at 1230 GMT

* AngloGold Ashanti suspends operations at S. African mine

* Barrick Gold posts sharp drop in third-quarter profit

By David Brough

LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Friday, pressured by gains in the dollar ahead of a closely watched jobs report that will give the last major signal on the state of the world's largest economy before U.S. elections next week, and could set the tone for monetary policy.

U.S. non-farm payrolls data, due at 1230 GMT, is expected to show the economy added 125,000 jobs last month, a Reuters poll showed, though the unemployment rate is seen at 7.9 percent, against 7.8 percent the previous month.

Ahead of the data, the dollar rose to a near four-month high against the yen and a near three-week high against the euro as investors bet on an upbeat report after private employers added jobs at the fastest pace in eight months.

Spot gold was at $1,709.26 at 1102 GMT, down 0.63 percent, while U.S. gold futures for December fell $5.80 to $1,709.70. In the short term, it could benefit from a positive reading of the U.S. jobs market.

"The stronger dollar is bringing down a number of markets including gold," Standard Chartered analyst Daniel Smith said.

He said the payroll data was likely to show strong job creation after a recent run of positive U.S. economic data, which augured for a weaker dollar and higher gold prices.

"More surprising than not, we'll see good numbers today, and generally that will be pro-risk -- I think we're going to see higher metals prices and higher gold on the back of that, because the dollar is likely to weaken."

But in the longer term, a positive reading could weigh on gold if it trims expectations for monetary easing. The U.S. authorities have explicitly tied the extent of monetary stimulus measures - news of which sent gold above $1,795 an ounce in October - to the health of the jobs market.

Looser monetary policy stokes longer-term inflationary fears and maintains pressure on interest rates, both good for gold.

"A downside surprise in non-farm payrolls is likely to help fuel a gold rally, in our view," HSBC said in a note.

FESTIVAL SEASON

Gold importers in India, historically the world's biggest gold consumer, rushed to stock up ahead of major festivals after prices of the metal fell to their lowest in nearly a month.

India is approaching the height of its festival season, with the Diwali and Dhanteras later this month. Gold is a key part of gifts and is used for dowries at weddings, which are popular at this time of year.

Data released by the Istanbul Gold Exchange on Friday showed Turkey's gold imports fell to 3.7 tonnes in October from 7.49 tonnes a year earlier, and 3.84 tonnes in September.

In South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti suspended operations at one of its mines on Friday, a sign that labour tensions continue to bubble in the sector despite the official resolution of weeks of wildcat walkouts.

The world's top gold producer, Barrick Gold Corp, reported a sharp drop in third-quarter profit, nudged back the production date for its massive Pascua-Lama gold and silver mine and increased its estimate on costs.

Platinum and palladium were both headed for their first weekly gains after three weeks of straight falls, although spot platinum lost half a percent to $1,553.24 and spot palladium fell 0.84 percent to $605.47.

October auto sales data pointed to still-sluggish car demand, curbing consumption expectations for platinum and palladium, which are chiefly used in catalytic converters.

France posted its twelfth straight monthly fall in new car registrations on Friday, while German new car registrations rose by slightly more than 1 percent in October, having slumped 11 percent in September, according to a source.

Silver was down 0.62 percent at $32.01 an ounce.

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