* Expectations for near-term U.S. rate hike dim
* Speculators raise net long position in gold in week to
* SPDR Gold holdings rose 0.4 pct on Friday
(Adds comment, updates prices)
By Sethuraman N R
Feb 6 Gold prices edged up on Monday, gaining
for a third day, on technical buying and a weaker dollar after
mixed U.S. jobs data late last week muted expectations for
near-term interest rate hikes.
Spot gold had gained 0.3 percent to $1,222.95 per
ounce by 0555 GMT.
U.S. gold futures rose 0.4 percent to $1,225.45 per
U.S. job growth surged more than expected in January as
construction firms and retailers ramped up hiring, but wages
barely rose, handing the administration under President Donald
Trump both a head start and a challenge as it seeks to boost the
The Dollar Index was down 0.1 percent at 99.736.
"Gold is pointing to push higher from all fronts on charts,"
said Brian Lan, managing director at gold dealer GoldSilver
Central in Singapore, adding that the metal may test $1,230 per
Spot gold may rise towards resistance at $1,249 per ounce,
as it has managed to stand above resistance at $1,219, according
to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
Wall Street's top banks expect just two rate hikes from the
Federal Reserve this year and see only a modest risk to the U.S.
central bank being pressed into a more aggressive pace of
monetary policy tightening.
"It's unlikely there will be a rate hike in March as there
is too much political unrest in the United States. At least in
the first half of the year, gold should do quite well," Lan
Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. rates, which
increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion
while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
Investor interest in gold was underscored by U.S. Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data on Friday that showed
speculators increased their net long position in COMEX gold
contracts to the highest in eight weeks in the week to Jan. 31.
Gold and silver would continue to move higher in February,
largely on account of the continued weakness in the dollar,
coupled with geopolitical developments having to do with both
Iran and Ukraine, INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said.
"The (U.S.) standoff with Iran is the most problematic,
since if tensions continued to escalate, it is quite possible
that one side of the other could pull out of the nuclear
accords, in which case we could see an immediate spike in gold."
A Revolutionary Guards commander said Iran would use its
missiles if its security is under threat, as the elite force
defied new U.S. sanctions on its missile programme by holding a
military exercise on Saturday.
Spot silver on Monday rose 0.4 percent to $17.53 an
Platinum prices were up 0.2 percent at $1,005.70,
while palladium rose 1.6 percent to $757.95.
(Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph
Radford and Christian Schmollinger)