PRECIOUS-Fed taper talk leads gold towards its worst month since 2016

* Gold down about 8% so far this month

* Platinum eyes worst quarter and month since March 2020 (Updates prices)

June 30 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged down on Wednesday, on track for their biggest monthly decline since November 2016, as upcoming U.S. jobs data and taper talks from the U.S. Federal Reserve kept investors on the sidelines.

Spot gold eased 0.2% to $1,758.50 per ounce by 1208 GMT, having touched its lowest since April 15 at $1,749.20 on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,759.40.

Bullion prices are down about 8% for the month, weighed down by the Fed’s sudden hawkish shift. But they are up 3% for the quarter.

Equity markets remain strong as the economy recovers, and “that’s something which potentially will be a drag on gold”, as it is considered as safe haven asset, UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said, adding, bullion could drop towards $1,600 by the end of the year.

Investors are also eyeing the non-farm payrolls on Friday, which if comes out strong, could further pressurise gold, Staunovo added.

The U.S. Labor Department expected to report a gain of 690,000 jobs in June, compared with 559,000 in May, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

Meanwhile a “very optimistic” Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller on Tuesday said the U.S. central bank may need to start dialling down its massive asset purchase programme as soon as this year to allow the option of raising interest rates by late next year.

Elsewhere, silver rose 0.5% to $25.86.

“While outperformance is likely, we see limited prospect of a rising silver price in a falling gold market,” Morgan Stanley said in a note, adding, it was holding its forecast for silver at a flat $25 to mid-year 2022.

Palladium lost 0.6% to $2,694.29 per ounce, and was set for a second straight month of declines.

Platinum fell 0.7% to $1,059.46 and was set for its biggest monthly and quarterly drop since March 2020. (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru Editing by Robert Birsel and Louise Heavens)