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PRECIOUS-Gold nurses losses after robust U.S. jobs report

SINGAPORE, April 4 (Reuters) - Gold nursed losses on Monday,
after a strong U.S. jobs report triggered speculation that the
Federal Reserve could raise interest rates sooner than expected.
    
    FUNDAMENTALS
    * Spot gold eased 0.1 percent to $1,220.60 an ounce
by 0038 GMT, after dropping 0.8 percent on Friday. 
    * Nonfarm payrolls rose by 215,000 last month, higher than
expectations of 205,000, underscoring the strength in the U.S.
economy. 
    * U.S. interest rate futures suggested traders are now
betting the Fed will next raise rates as soon as November,
versus December ahead of the report.   
    * Wall Street's top banks held firm to their expectation for
a rate hike in June and expect a total of two hikes this year, a
stance little changed from a month ago, according to a Reuters
survey conducted on Friday. 
    * The dollar, however, was on the defensive despite the
robust report, a factor that could support gold if the weakness
persists.       
    * Gold posted its biggest quarterly rise in nearly 30 years
in the March quarter, rallying 16 percent as expectations faded
that the Fed would move to normalize interest rates due to
concerns over the global economy. The U.S. central bank raised
rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade.    
    * Investor positioning in gold is largely bullish. Hedge
funds and money managers boosted their bullish bet in gold in
the week to March 29, to the highest since the end of 2012, as
traders speculated over the timing of interest rate hikes, U.S.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
 
    * Assets in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, fell 0.15 percent to 818.09 tonnes on
Friday, but remain near the highest in over two years. 
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    MARKET NEWS
    * Stocks on Wall Street rose on Friday after
better-than-expected U.S. jobs and factory survey data, but a
gloomy manufacturing report in Japan knocked other global equity
markets lower and crude oil prices slumped.
    
    DATA AHEAD (GMT)
    0830 Euro zone Sentix index Apr
    0900 Euro zone Producer prices Feb 
    1345 U.S. ISM-New York index Mar 
    1400 U.S. Employment trends Mar 
    1400 U.S. Factory orders Feb
    
    PRICES AT 0038 GMT
 Metal            Last     Change   Pct chg
                                           
 Spot gold         1220.6    -1.51    -0.12
 Spot silver       15.024   -0.004    -0.03
 Spot platinum     954.49    -0.01        0
 Spot palladium    559.72    -5.88    -1.04
 Comex gold        1222.6     -0.9    -0.07
 Comex silver       15.03   -0.016    -0.11
                                           
 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the
 most active months
 
 (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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