* Gold to drop more to $1,650-technicals
* Set to gain for a fourth week in five
* Coming Up: U.S. nonfarm payrolls - 1330 GMT
By Lewa Pardomuan
SINGAPORE, Feb 1 Gold ticked lower on Friday
after recent gains prompted investors to book profits, but the
metal was heading for a small weekly rise before the release of
key U.S. employment data that may show a modest growth.
Although weaker prices attracted buying from jewellers in
China and Thailand, most investors turned their attention to the
U.S. data after a Reuters survey showed nonfarm payrolls are
expected to have risen 160,000, a marginal step up from
December's 155,000 job gain.
"Investors are still trading on news, particularly from the
United States," said Brian Lan, managing director of GoldSilver
Central Pte Ltd in Singapore. "Precious metals haven't gotten
their safe haven status back fully yet."
With the nonfarm data coming out, investors probably prefer
to take profits before planning their next move, he said.
Gold eased $1.13 to $1,661.86 an ounce by 0604 GMT --
on course for a weekly rise of 0.2 percent, its fourth week of
gains in five. It hit a near one-week peak of $1,683.39 on
Wednesday after data showed the U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank
in the fourth quarter.
U.S. COMEX gold futures for February was little
changed at $1,660.40 an ounce.
"If the data released is better than expected, people will
tend to move back to stocks as opposed to buying into precious
metals," Lan said.
Shares in Asia wiped earlier gains on Friday as a tepid
Chinese manufacturing report dented sentiment, while the euro
was at its highest level since November 2011 on
diminishing worries about Europe's debt crisis.
The euro's strength pushed the dollar index to its lowest
since late December, which in theory should have boosted
Gold rallied to a record of around $1,920 in September 2011,
when a worsening debt crisis in Europe sparked a buying rush.
Previous rounds of asset purchases by the U.S. Federal Reserve
had also weakened the dollar, prompting investors to turn to
gold as a hedge against inflation.
"There's a little buying on the physical side because
premiums are slightly cheaper at $1 an ounce. There's some
buying from mainland China," said a dealer in Hong Kong, where
premiums for gold bars fetched $1.20 last week.
"But I think gold is a bit tired after it failed to break
$1,700 an ounce."
In other precious metals, silver, platinum and
palladium tracked gold lower.
The CME Group said it will add platinum and
palladium options onto its Globex electronic platform beginning
late in February in a move to capitalize on growing investor
interest in platinum group metals.
Precious metals prices 0604 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume
Spot Gold 1661.86 -1.13 -0.07 -0.76
Spot Silver 31.35 -0.06 -0.19 3.53
Spot Platinum 1669.24 -7.01 -0.42 8.75
Spot Palladium 739.67 -0.80 -0.11 6.89
COMEX GOLD FEB3 1660.40 -0.20 -0.01 -0.92 263
COMEX SILVER MAR3 31.37 0.01 +0.04 3.75 3576
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Additional reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Himani Sarkar)