March 13, 2017 / 1:11 AM / 5 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices steady, investor focus shifts to Fed

    March 13 (Reuters) - Gold prices were steady on Monday after
rising from 5-week lows in the previous session, but
expectations of a U.S. interest rate hike this week dragged on
the market.

    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold        had risen 0.1 percent to $1,205.86 per
ounce by 0039 GMT. It fell to its weakest since Jan. 31 at
$1,194.55 on Friday, but recovered to hit a high of $1,206.36
after U.S. jobs data failed to meet the expectations of some
investors.
    * U.S. gold futures         rose 0.4 percent to $1,205.80 an
ounce.
    * Labor Department data, which showed U.S. non-farm payrolls
rose 235,000 last month, beat official forecasts but was not
enough to satisfy those whose expectations had been boosted by a
strong private payrolls number earlier in the week.             
    * Japan's core machinery orders unexpectedly fell in January
from the previous month, highlighting that the country's
economic recovery remains fragile.             
    * While an imminent hike in U.S. interest rates is putting a
downdraft on gold prices, bullion's allure as a safe-haven is
likely to limit the downside, traders and analysts say, owing to
uncertainties in the United States and Europe.             
    * India's ambitious plan to recycle thousands of tonnes of
gold lying idle in temples and households looks to have
foundered on concerns over high costs and slight returns, in a
blow to government hopes of cutting imports of the metal.
            
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust      , the world's largest
gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 1.06 percent to 825.22
tonnes on Friday from 834.10 tonnes on Thursday.          
    * Hedge funds and money managers slashed their net long
position in COMEX gold from the highest in 3 months in the week
to March 7, and cut it slightly in silver, U.S. Commodity
Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.             
    * Money managers cut their net long position in bullion by
27,827 to 93,893 lots, the data showed. A week earlier,
speculators had boosted their net long position in COMEX gold to
the highest in more than three months.
    * Gold demand picked up slightly across Asia last week,
fuelled by a drop in international prices as the dollar gained
on expectations of a near-certain increase in U.S. interest
rates, traders and market participants said.              
    
    
     DATA AHEAD (GMT)
     1400  U.S.       Employment trends        Feb 

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph
Radford)
  

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