NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Gold tumbled 1 percent on Friday after data showed U.S. job growth accelerated sharply, easing fears of an abrupt economic slowdown and keeping the Federal Reserve on track to continue reducing its monetary stimulus.
Bullion pared some early losses after benchmark 10-year Treasury yields gave back some gains after initially rising to a six-week high. Weaker U.S. equities after early advances also helped lift gold from its lows.
Employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month up from January’s 129,000 new positions, the Labor Department said. The unemployment rate, however, rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent, as Americans flooded into the labor market to search for work.
“It’s a decent data point but who knows how valid it is because of the weather and so forth,” said Axel Merk, portfolio manager of California-based Merk Funds, which has more than $400 million in currency mutual fund assets.
“Ultimately, the Fed is not interested in tightening any time soon because Yellen says she doesn’t think inflation is a problem,” which boosts gold’s appeal as a hedge, he said.
Spot gold fell as much as 1.5 percent to a session low of $1,329.35 an ounce, and was last trading down 1 percent at $1,337.19 by 1:11 p.m. EST (1811 GMT).
U.S. COMEX gold futures for April delivery fell $14 to $1,337.80 an ounce, with trading volume about 20 percent above its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
The metal, seen as a safe haven, was still on track for a fifth straight week of gains, capitalising on gains made earlier in the week when tensions in Ukraine escalated.
“In the short term, given the better-than-expected data, and provided nothing happens in Ukraine over the weekend, gold could fall below $1,330,” VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov said.
On Friday, President Vladimir Putin rebuffed a warning from U.S. President Barack Obama over Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea, saying that Russia could not ignore calls for help from Russian speakers in Ukraine.
Palladium posted its biggest weekly gain in nearly eight months, with a 5 percent increase. It was last trading up 17 cents on the day at $777.47 an ounce, having hit a one-year high of $781.50 an ounce on Thursday.
Political tensions in top producer Russia and union strikes in second-biggest producer South Africa have triggered fears of supply constraints.
Platinum also notched its second straight weekly gain, up 2.6 percent. It edged up 39 cents on the day at $1,477.99.
There is no sign of an end to a six-week old platinum strike in South Africa. Wage talks collapsed earlier this week between the country’s powerful mineworker union AMCU and the world’s three top producers.
Silver fell 2.5 percent to $20.91 an ounce.
Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson, Susan Fenton and Andrew Hay