PRECIOUS-Gold edges down to five-week low ahead of U.S. jobs data

    * Gold may rise to $1,213-$1,219/oz range before falling -
    * Silver hits lowest since Jan. 31
    * Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust unchanged on Tuesday

 (Updates prices)
    By Arpan Varghese
    March 9 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched down to the lowest
level in five weeks on Thursday, pressured by an uptick in the
dollar ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday.
    Spot gold        was down by 0.1 percent at $1,206.46 per
ounce, as of 0711 GMT. Earlier in the session, it hit $1,203.25,
the lowest since Feb. 1.
    U.S. gold futures         eased 0.3 percent to $1,206.4.
    Investors are awaiting February non-farm payrolls data on
Friday as a barometer of the U.S. economy after Federal Reserve
Chair Janet Yellen said last week the central bank was poised to
lift rates provided jobs and inflation data held up. 
    Her comments were seen as cementing plans for an increase at
the Fed's March 14-15 meeting.            
    "If the (nonfarm payroll) data does come in better than
market expectations, it will drag gold prices further," said
OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan.
    "But with fund futures fully pricing in the rate hike story,
I'd presume gold will just be supported at the $1,200 handle
into next week, whereby the actual rate hikes will come in."
    Interest rates futures implied traders saw an 86 percent
chance of a rate hike next week        on Wednesday, compared
with 82 percent at Tuesday's close, according to CME Group's
FedWatch program.             
    Higher rates tend to put pressure on gold prices because
they raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion
while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.     
    The dollar index       , which pits the greenback against
six major currencies, rose 0.1 percent to 102.15.
    Meanwhile, the ADP National Employment Report released on
Wednesday showed its biggest increase in more than a year in
February, suggesting the U.S. economy remains on solid ground.
    Spot gold may bounce into a range of $1,213-$1,219 per ounce
before falling again, as it seems to have lost its bearish
momentum around a support at $1,206, according to Reuters
technical analyst Wang Tao.             
    Meanwhile, holdings of the largest gold-backed
exchange-traded-fund (ETF), New York's SPDR Gold Trust GLD,
remained unchanged on Tuesday from Monday.          
    In other precious metals, silver        slid as much as 0.4
percent to $17.17 per ounce. Earlier in the session, the metal
hit $17.10, the lowest since Jan. 31.
    Platinum        was mostly unchanged at $945 per ounce,
while palladium        slipped 0.8 percent to $763.03 per ounce.

 (Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard
Pullin and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)