PRECIOUS-Gold up 1 pct, investors nervous ahead of U.S. data

Wed Apr 2, 2014 9:47am EDT

* Dollar steadies as improvement in U.S. jobs data expected

* SPDR sees outflow of 2.10 tonnes on Monday

* China prices at premium for 1st time since early March (Updates prices, adds comment)

By Clara Denina

LONDON, April 2 (Reuters) - Gold rose around one percent on Wednesday, recouping some strength after two days of losses as investors remained jittery ahead of U.S. jobs data that should help gauge the strength of the world's biggest economy.

Spot gold rose 1 percent to $1,291.80 an ounce by 1331 GMT. It hit its lowest since Feb. 11 at $1,277.29 in the previous session.

Gold futures for April delivery rose $12.40 to $1,292.40 an ounce.

"At the moment we are seeing some short-covering from those who had been waiting for a deeper correction but that shouldn't take away from the fact that the main event remains the NFPs (non-farm payrolls) on Friday," Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.

After encouraging manufacturing and car sales data on Tuesday, ADP jobs figures showed the pace of hiring picked up in March, although the number of workers added by the U.S. private sector was slightly below the 195,000 forecast.

As U.S. data turn more positive after two months of underperformance due to extremely cold weather, market participants await Friday's payrolls data, which will be preceded by weekly jobless claims on Thursday.

The negative impact of any strong U.S. data on gold could, however, be cushioned by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's recent defence of the Fed's easy monetary policy, analysts said.

"There will be a greater search for meaningful clues from the Fed as to whether a genuinely hawkish stance is being taken as suggested a couple of weeks ago or not," Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said.

In wider markets, the dollar was up 0.1 percent against a basket of currencies, drawing support from steadier U.S. Treasury yields.

Returns from U.S. bonds are closely watched by the gold market, given that the metal pays no interest.

As a gauge of investor interest, holdings in SPDR Gold Trust , the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 2.10 tonnes to 810.98 tonnes on Tuesday - the lowest since early March.

CHINA DEMAND

Physical demand from top consumer China rose slightly, with local prices trading at a premium to spot London prices for the first time since early March.

Prices for 99.99 percent purity gold on the Shanghai Gold Exchange hit a premium of about $1 an ounce to spot prices before easing to trade on par with London rates.

Since early March, Shanghai prices have been at a discount due to weak demand. Traders said discounts had gone up to $8-$10 an ounce.

Prices were at a premium of over $20 an ounce in January just before the Chinese New Year holiday.

"Physical demand remains lacklustre across a host of regions and this is an important signal - gold needs that physical indicator to pick up in order to give the market some confidence that a floor is nearby," UBS said in a note.

Platinum rose 1 percent to $1,431.25 an ounce and palladium gained 1.2 percent to $783.25 an ounce on continued worries over supply constraints and positive U.S. car sales.

Anglo American Platinum has sent force majeure notices to some of the suppliers to its South African mines, the world's top platinum producer said, underscoring the widening economic impact of an almost 10-week-old strike.

Silver rose 1.5 percent to $19.99 an ounce. (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; editing by William Hardy and Keiron Henderson)

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