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Gold gains on economic fears; investors focus on jobs report

(Reuters) - Gold prices rose for a fourth straight session on Friday, buoyed by safe-haven sentiment after weak U.S. data deepened concerns over economic growth, with eyes now turning to a jobs report that could signal further U.S. rate cuts.

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars of one kilogram are placed on a table at a plant of gold refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus SA in the southern Swiss town of Mendrisio, March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener/File Photo

Spot gold was up 0.3% at $1,508.64 an ounce at 0653 GMT, having climbed in the previous session to its highest since Sept. 25 at $1,518.50.

U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,514.60.

ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes said the disappointing economic indicators from the United States in recent days were supporting safe-haven buying.

U.S. services sector activity slowed to a three-year low in September amid rising concerns about tariffs, a survey showed on Thursday, following a sucession of poor economic data this week.

Focus now is on the U.S. non-farm payrolls report due at 1230 GMT.

“If we see weaker than expected non-farm payroll data as well, that will support gold prices and the momentum will be pretty strong, provided it is backed up by Fed dovishness,” Hynes added.

Two U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers on Thursday signalled they are open to delivering another rate cut, while Vice Chairman Richard Clarida said the central bank “will act as appropriate to sustain a low unemployment rate and solid growth and stable inflation”.

“Given the slowdown in the global economy and geopolitical tensions, if weak data coming out of U.S. prompts the Fed to cut rates once again, gold will have the potential to touch the $1,600 mark,” said Vandana Bharti, assistant vice-president of commodity research at SMC Comtrade.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar.

The U.S. dollar was flat against a basket of major currencies. [USD/]

On the trade front, meanwhile, new 25% U.S. tariffs on Italian cheese, French wine, Scotch whisky and thousands of other European food products will lead to higher prices ahead of the holiday season and cost American jobs, trade groups said on Thursday.

Gold is widely considered a safe store of value during economic and political uncertainty.

Among other precious metals, platinum fell more than 1% to $881.05 an ounce and was down more than 4% this week, putting it on track for its biggest weekly decline since May.

Silver gained 0.2% to $17.59 and palladium rose 0.4% to $1,659.64, set fopr a 1.5% fall on the week after eight weekly gains.

Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by David Goodman