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Gold firm ahead of US nonfarm payrolls report

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SINGAPORE — Gold rose on Friday ahead of a closely watched US jobs report and the metal was set to post its first weekly gain in four thanks to safe-haven bids amid political uncertainty in Greece and robust Chinese demand.

Spot gold ticked up 0.3% to $1,212.21/oz by 3.08am GMT but it was below a three-week high of $1,222.40 reached on Tuesday.

“Safe-haven demand appears to be rising again as oil prices slump and concern grows about Greece exiting the euro,” ScotiaMocatta analysts said in a note, adding that physical demand in top-consumer China had also been a factor.

“We are wary that the safe-haven buying may not last if concern over Greece subsides.”

The metal has gained 2% so far this week, snapping a three-week losing streak, after global equities slumped on worry about political developments in Greece that could see it leaving the eurozone.

Equities have since recovered, prompting gold to give up some of its gains. Strong US economic data have also hurt.

The latest safe-haven bids were spurred by concern that a January 25 Greek general election would lead to a standoff between Berlin and Athens over austerity policies imposed on Greece. The left-wing opposition party Syriza, which wants to cancel a chunk of Greek debt and the austerity measures imposed after an international bailout, has a narrow lead in opinion polls.

Traders were waiting for the release of the US nonfarm payrolls report later in the day to gauge the strength of the world’s biggest economy. Robust data would dent gold’s appeal as a hedge.

Strong data could also prompt the US Federal Reserve to increase interest rates sooner rather than later, hurting noninterest-bearing bullion. Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week and job cuts declined sharply in December, suggesting faster US growth this year despite a faltering global economy. However, minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting released on Wednesday indicated that the central bank was in no hurry to raise interest rates. Elsewhere, in the physical markets, demand from China has been strong in recent weeks in the build-up to the Lunar New Year holiday in February, when gold is bought for gift-giving.

Premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange were hovering between $5 and $6 on Friday over the global benchmark, indicating strong buying interest.

Platinum gained $7.46 or 0.61 % to $1,221.95 and palladium was up $4.17 or 0.53% to $791.47.

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