* Speculators raise net long positions in gold
* Non-farm payrolls in focus this week
(Recasts with updates prices)
By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON, April 3 Gold prices rose on Monday
despite a firmer dollar, but was trading in a tight range as the
market sought more direction from key U.S. economic data
expected later in the week.
Spot gold was 0.23 percent higher at $1,245.71 per
ounce at 1530 GMT, trading in the range between $1,253.52-
"Gold is stuck between $1,238-$1,260 with the risk to skewed
to downside based on rising expected interest rates and failure
to break higher which has left it vulnerable to profit-taking in
the short term," said Ole Hansen, the head of commodity strategy
at Saxo Bank.
Hansen said focus now turned to U.S. payrolls data on Friday
which could provide more clues on the direction of interest
Supporting gold was geopolitical tension sparked by U.S.
President Donald Trump who on Sunday held out the possibility of
using trade as a lever to secure Chinese cooperation against
"There were comments from Trump to China over the weekend
saying "if you can't sort out North Korea, we will" so there is
still some geopolitical risk out there which attracts demand for
gold," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.
Gold is often seen as an alternative investment during
times of geopolitical and financial uncertainty.
The dollar index hit a two-week high, up 0.3
U.S. consumer spending barely rose in February amid delays
in the payment of income tax refunds, but the biggest annual
jump in inflation in nearly five years supported expectations of
further interest rate hikes this year.
Spot gold notched a quarterly gain of about 8.4 percent on
Friday, marking its best quarter in a year, mostly driven by
uncertainties around Trump's policies and elections in Europe.
Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long
position in COMEX gold for the second straight week in the week
to March 28, and boosted it slightly in silver, U.S. Commodity
Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
In other precious metals, spot silver edged down 0.1
percent to $18.23 per ounce but held near four-week highs.
Platinum rose 1.1 percent to $956.10, after recording
its best quarter in a year. Palladium was up 0.7 percent
at $800.60 an ounce and is up about 17 percent so far this year.
"We think that both the gold and silver complexes will make
fresh highs this month ahead of the French elections, but likely
fade in their immediate aftermath," said INTL FCStone analyst
(Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman and Arpan Varghese
in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans)