February 1, 2018 / 1:28 PM / 18 days ago

CORRECTED-PRECIOUS-Gold prices flat ahead of U.S. jobs data

 (Corrects location of EverBank in paragraph 5 to Jacksonville,
Florida, not St. Louis)
    * Palladium edges up after hitting lowest since Dec. 18
    * GRAPHIC-2018 asset returns: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl

    By Renita D. Young and Zandi Shabalala
    NEW YORK/LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Gold prices were nearly
unchanged on Thursday as markets anticipated U.S. jobs data due
at the end of the week for guidance on monetary policy for the
remainder of the year.
    Spot gold        shed 0.01 percent at $1,344.56 ounce by
1:36 p.m. EST (1836 GMT). It touched $1,332.30 an ounce in the
previous session, its lowest since Jan. 23.
    U.S. gold futures         futures for April delivery settled
up $4.80, or 0.4 percent, at $1,347.90 per ounce. 
    The U.S. Fed held interest rates unchanged on Wednesday but
raised its inflation outlook and flagged "further gradual" rate
increases.             
    "One thing that could throw a wrench into the Fed’s plans to
raise three times this year is wages. Employment has certainly
continued to march higher with unemployment dropping, but wages
have been sticky," said Chris Gaffney, president of world
markets at Jacksonville, Florida-based EverBank. 
    Stronger-than-expected jobs data, lower unemployment and
higher wages would signal strength in the economy, and could in
turn strengthen the dollar and pressure gold, Gaffney added.
    Gold gained just 3.2 percent in January as the dollar fell
to three-year lows against a basket of major currencies. It hit
a 17-month peak of $1,366.07 on Jan. 25.       
    "We remain somewhat friendly to gold in the short-term. The
dollar seems to be adrift, as investors are unsure what
direction to push it," said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.
    The dollar index inched lower after the Fed signaled its
confidence about inflation and growth in the U.S. economy,
reinforcing views it will raise rates several times this year.
      
    Inflation worries generally boost gold, which is seen as a
safe-haven against rising prices. But expectations that the Fed
will raise interest rates to fight inflation make gold less
attractive because it does not pay interest.
    Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded
fund, New York-listed SPDR Gold Shares      , fell another 4.1
tonnes on Wednesday, data from the fund showed, cutting its
inflow for January to just 3.9 tonnes.
    In other precious metals, silver        slipped 0.6 percent
to $17.20 per ounce and platinum        fell 0.5 percent to
$999.50.
    Palladium        was 0.3 percent higher at $1,030.97 per
ounce after touching $1,013.72 earlier in the session, its
lowest since Dec. 18. The metal is down about 3.5 percent so far
this year.
    "I wouldn't be surprised to see prices reach $1,000 because
demand is strong but its not strong enough for the price to be
at $1,100," said Natixis analyst Bernard Dahdah, adding that
this was the beginning of a correction for the metal.

 (Additional reporting by Nithin Prasad and Nallur Sethuraman in
Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams and David Gregorio)
  
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