* Traders focus on U.S. non-farm payrolls at 1230 GMT
* AngloGold Ashanti suspends operations at S. African mine
* Barrick Gold posts sharp drop in third-quarter profit
By David Brough
LONDON, Nov 2 Gold fell on Friday, pressured by
gains in the dollar ahead of a closely watched jobs report that
will give the last major signal on the state of the world's
largest economy before U.S. elections next week, and could set
the tone for monetary policy.
U.S. non-farm payrolls data, due at 1230 GMT, is expected to
show the economy added 125,000 jobs last month, a Reuters poll
showed, though the unemployment rate is seen at 7.9 percent,
against 7.8 percent the previous month.
Ahead of the data, the dollar rose to a near four-month high
against the yen and a near three-week high against the euro as
investors bet on an upbeat report after private employers added
jobs at the fastest pace in eight months.
Spot gold was at $1,709.26 at 1102 GMT, down 0.63
percent, while U.S. gold futures for December fell $5.80
to $1,709.70. In the short term, it could benefit from a
positive reading of the U.S. jobs market.
"The stronger dollar is bringing down a number of markets
including gold," Standard Chartered analyst Daniel Smith said.
He said the payroll data was likely to show strong job
creation after a recent run of positive U.S. economic data,
which augured for a weaker dollar and higher gold prices.
"More surprising than not, we'll see good numbers today, and
generally that will be pro-risk -- I think we're going to see
higher metals prices and higher gold on the back of that,
because the dollar is likely to weaken."
But in the longer term, a positive reading 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.
"A downside surprise in non-farm payrolls is likely to help
fuel a gold rally, in our view," HSBC said in a note.
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.
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.
The world's top gold producer, Barrick Gold Corp,
reported a sharp drop in third-quarter profit, nudged back the
production date for its massive Pascua-Lama gold and silver mine
and increased its estimate on costs.
Platinum and palladium were both headed for their first
weekly gains after three weeks of straight falls, although spot
platinum lost half a percent to $1,553.24 and spot
palladium fell 0.84 percent to $605.47.
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 0.62 percent at $32.01 an ounce.