* Stronger dollar, U.S. data weigh on prices
* Gold headed for small loss for the week
* Physical demand subdued, to pick up next month
By A. Ananthalakshmi
SINGAPORE, Aug 23 Gold struggled to break
through a tight trading range and was little changed on Friday
after strong U.S. jobs and manufacturing data added to concerns
about an imminent pull-back in the Federal Reserve's
commodities-friendly stimulus measures.
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless
benefits last week held near a six-year low and U.S.
manufacturing activity rose in August, suggesting the economy is
starting to find a firmer footing.
Market expectations that the Fed could start scaling back
its massive stimulus programme as early as September helped push
the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields higher, weighing on gold.
"A stronger dollar is discouraging some demand," said Ronald
Leung at dealer and refiner Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong
Kong. "Demand is very quiet now but it could pick up if prices
fall below $1,350."
Spot gold rose 0.04 percent to $1,375.76 an ounce by
0647 GMT. It traded in a 1,371.91-1,379.01 range during the day
and is headed for a small loss for the week after a near 5
percent gain last week.
The minutes of a Fed meeting released earlier this week did
not provide any clear signs of when the U.S. central bank would
begin tapering its $85 billion monthly bond purchases. The fear
of a scale back, along with fund outflows, has pulled gold
prices down by almost 20 percent this year.
Primary dealers surveyed before the Fed's July policy
meeting said they expected the U.S. central bank to trim its
asset purchases by $15 billion starting in September.
PHYSICAL DEMAND SLOW
Demand in top buyers India and China has been subdued ahead
of a peak wedding and festival season that kicks off next month.
"Once the summer is over, we will see consistent buying from
September through the end of the year," said Peter Fung, head of
dealing at Hong Kong's Wing Fung Precious Metals.
Premiums in Hong Kong, the key supplier of gold to China,
have fallen to about $4 an ounce over London spot prices as of
Friday, dealers said, from $5 last week.
India may restart imports soon after the central bank
clarified a new rule that brought the flow of the precious metal
into the world's top gold consumer to a standstill at the end of
July. The top gold consumer is battling with a record trade
Precious metals prices 0647 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume
Spot Gold 1375.76 0.52 +0.04 -17.84
Spot Silver 23.06 -0.05 -0.22 -23.84
Spot Platinum 1535.74 -0.76 -0.05 0.05
Spot Palladium 752.47 0.97 +0.13 8.74
COMEX GOLD DEC3 1375.60 4.80 +0.35 -17.91 16424
COMEX SILVER SEP3 23.07 0.04 +0.15 -23.88 6820
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months
(Editing by Richard Pullin and Muralikumar Anantharaman)