SINGAPORE Gold edged up on Wednesday but was poised to snap a four-month winning streak, with investors staying on the sidelines ahead of key U.S. employment data and in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Spot gold was moving in a range of about $3, after trading little changed in thin volume in the previous session when Sandy wreaked havoc on much of the eastern United States.
The precious metal is likely to remain stuck in a tight band in the coming days, ahead of the release of a key U.S. payrolls report and next week's U.S. presidential election, traders and analysts said.
"There are a lot of event risks -- nonfarm payrolls, the U.S. election, a change of power in China, plus the routine policy meetings of various central banks," said a Singapore-based trader.
Economists expect U.S. job growth to have picked up slightly in October, but not enough to prevent the unemployment rate from rising off a four-year low.
Spot gold had inched up 0.1 percent to $1,711.01 an ounce by 0722 GMT, on course for a monthly drop of more than 3 percent, its biggest one-month decline since May.
U.S. gold was trading nearly flat at $1,711.60.
Technical analysis suggested spot gold could rebound to $1,730 an ounce as it has climbed above a falling channel, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
Investors are waiting for the result of next week's presidential election to get a fuller picture of what the next government will do to help economic growth.
"People wonder if (Mitt) Romney is going to be in power and what kind of monetary policy we will have. He is clearly not in favor of what the Fed is doing," said Dominic Schnider, an analyst at UBS Wealth Management in Singapore.
But he said the looming fiscal cliff -- automatic tax hikes and government spending cuts starting the beginning of next year if the U.S. Congress fails to act -- will be supportive of gold.
"I don't think they will come to an easy agreement on how to handle things, which could be ... negative for the dollar and quite supportive of gold."
In industry news, the violence in South Africa's mining sector continued. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas on Tuesday at striking Amplats (AMSJ.J) miners who were protesting against a union-brokered deal to end a six-week wildcat walkout at the top platinum producer.
(Editing by Joseph Radford)