* Non-farm payrolls rise less than expected in April
* Renewed hopes of US monetary easing boost bullion
* Gold firm despite sharp losses in oil, equities
* Coming up: U.S. consumer credit due Monday
(Adds details, updates market prices)
By Frank Tang and Jan Harvey
NEW YORK/LONDON, May 4 Gold rose on Friday as
investors selling crude oil and equities bought the metal after
a weak U.S. nonfarm payroll report boosted bullion's investment
appeal on talk that a weaker economy might prompt further
monetary easing by the Federal Reserve.
Bullion still finished down 0.6 percent for the week. Gold
has dropped $150 from a peak in late February after a strong run
of U.S. data cast serious doubts over whether the Federal
Reserve would launch a third round of government bond purchases,
or quantitative easing, also known as QE3.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke "had said QE3 is going to be
dependent on the incoming data. Next time when he speaks he's
going to reemphasize that the Fed is willing to do more," said
Axel Merk, chief investment officer of Merk Funds with about
$650 million in assets.
"That's one of key reason why gold is up because we have had
a very long period of consolidation," he said.
Gold rebounded from an early decline after the Labor
Department reported that U.S. employers added 115,000 workers to
payrolls last month, the third straight month in which hiring
had slowed. The far weaker-than-expected jobs data knocked crude
oil prices down 4 percent and hit the Dow Jones average with
Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,643.20 an ounce by
3:43 p.m. EDT (1943 GMT).
Having traded $20 lower earlier in the session, the metal
slowly chipped away losses on intensifying speculation of QE3,
which has been a major driver behind gold's 5 percent rise this
U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled up $10.40
an ounce at $1,645.20, with trading volume about 10 percent
below their 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
U.S. gold futures investors continued to digest news the CME
Group was granted a 90-day reprieve from imposing new
rules that will hike margins for some exchange members by as
much as a third.
EURO JITTERS EYED
Traders said safe-haven buying could also benefit gold next
week. Earlier this year, the metal had risen on jitters about
the euro zone ahead of Sunday's elections in France in Greece.
UBS analysts said in a note that Europe debt fears could
potentially disrupt global markets and derail investor
sentiment, but gold is poised to benefit due to intense pressure
on the euro.
Physical gold buying in top gold consumer India remained
lackluster due to firm Indian gold prices as a result of the
weak local rupees. [ID: nL4E8G44JV]
Among other precious metals, silver was up 1 percent
at $30.35 an ounce. Spot platinum eased 0.3 percent at
$1,522.50 an ounce, while spot palladium dropped 1.1
percent to $648.47 an ounce.
3:43 PM EDT LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT
SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL
US Gold JUN 1645.20 10.40 0.6 1626.80 1648.00 136,140
US Silver MAY 30.38 0.421 1.4 29.920 30.370 51
US Plat JUL 1536.00 2.90 0.2 1521.10 1541.10 6,214
US Pall JUN 652.15 -9.20 -1.4 649.50 665.90 3,073
Gold 1643.20 7.00 0.4 1627.25 1646.86
Silver 30.350 0.290 1.0 29.800 30.450
Platinum 1522.50 -4.65 -0.3 1524.25 1535.99
Palladium 648.47 -7.33 -1.1 652.25 663.25
TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY
CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG
US Gold 147,486 164,029 192,789 17.84 0.81
US Silver 43,814 54,854 62,357 26.89 1.25
US Platinum 6,279 7,862 8,267 19 0.00
US Palladium 3,247 3,127 4,673
(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer; Editing by David Gregorio)