Gold slips from 1-month high ahead of US jobs data
(Reuters) - Gold on Friday slipped from the one-month high touched in the previous session, with traders waiting for U.S. jobs data later in the day for clues on the pace of possible U.S. interest rate hikes this year.
Spot gold eased 0.2 percent to $1,178.41 per ounce by 0255 GMT. The metal on Thursday hit its highest since Dec. 5 at $1,184.90.
U.S. gold futures were also down 0.2 percent, at $1,179 per ounce.
"We can see a bit of profit-taking ahead of the nonfarm payroll data," said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.
A firm dollar will put pressure on gold prices ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration, he said.
U.S. services sector activity held at a one-year high in December as new orders surged, while the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell near a 43-year-low last week, suggesting the economy ended 2016 with strong momentum.
Investors are focused on Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, with economists expecting job gains of 178,000 in December.
U.S. Fed has indicated that it would press ahead with further interest rate hikes this year after its second rate increase in a decade last month.
Positive data usually puts pressure on gold prices, because investors raise bets on a U.S. interest rate hike that would increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
Analysts and traders say that the focus of the gold markets will move towards Trump's inauguration and some concerns exist about his potential policies.
Trump has promised tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation, and such changes could boost inflation and might set the stage for a confrontation between a president seeking to boost economic growth and the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Spot gold failed to break a resistance at $1,182 per ounce and it may either hover below this level or retrace to a support at $1,159, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust , the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.03 percent to 813.59 tonnes on Thursday from Wednesday. They have fallen over 14 percent since the U.S. presidential election in November.
Among other precious metals, spot silver rose 0.2 percent to $16.60. It hit a high of $16.71, best since Dec. 15, in the prior session.
Platinum was down 0.5 percent at $963.20, below near 8-week high of $975.80 hit in the prior session.
Palladium was down nearly 1 percent at $731.97, after hitting a 4-week high of $747.80 on Thursday. Palladium has gained nearly 8 percent this week, its best since the week-ending July 1.