PRECIOUS-Gold hits two-month low after U.S. jobs data

Fri Nov 2, 2012 9:26pm IST

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* U.S. non-farm payrolls data beats expectations

* Dollar rises to 7-week high against currency basket

* Indian gold buying picked up as prices retreated

By David Brough

LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices fell to their lowest level since late August on Friday, sliding more than 1 percent as the dollar jumped after better-than-expected U.S. jobs data in the last major signal on the state of the economy before elections next Tuesday.

Payrolls data showed employers added 171,000 jobs in October versus forecasts of 125,000, while the jobless rate met expectations at 7.9 percent.

The dollar, having already hit a seven-week high in the run-up to the data, extended gains against the euro, helping push gold through key resistance levels.

Spot gold was down 1.8 percent at $1,684.36 at 1509 GMT, having earlier hit an eight-week low of $1,682.89. It is on track to post its biggest one-day fall since mid-June.

U.S. gold futures for December fell $29.90 an ounce to $1,685.60.

"The dollar got a boost on the upside, and so gold saw some long liquidation and some stops were hit," said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS Finance.

"Ahead of the U.S. election the market will be nervous and undecided, so we should have volatile trading until Wednesday morning," he said.

In the longer term, a positive reading on jobs 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.

However, while the data was good, analysts say it is far from a level that would yet stoke fears of an imminent reversal of the Fed's commitment to easing.

"When you dig deeper into it, it's still not a robust number by any means," Charles Schwab fixed income strategist Kathy Jones said. "We're way short of where we need to be to bring down the unemployment rate to where the Fed would like to see, closer to 6 percent than 8 percent."

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On the physical markets, 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.

Buyers are likely to welcome gold's fall, which has pressured India's benchmark gold contract to its lowest since Aug. 23 at 30,527 rupees per 10 grams.

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.

Platinum and palladium were still set to eke out their first weekly gains after three weeks of straight falls, although spot platinum fell 1.4 percent to $1,542.49 and spot palladium fell 2.1 percent to $597.90.

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 2.8 percent at $31.30 an ounce, having also hit a two-month low at $31.14.

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