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PRECIOUS-Gold firms on weaker dollar; U.S. jobs data in focus

* $1,820/oz level key obstacle for gold - analyst

* U.S. jobless claims data due at 1230 GMT (Updates prices)

Sept 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched up on Thursday as the dollar remained weak, although they traded within a tight range ahead of U.S. August non-farm payrolls data considered crucial for the Federal Reserve’s tapering strategy.

Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,815.10 per ounce by 1143 GMT. U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,816.80.

“We’ve seen a little bit of a weaker dollar that has helped push gold prices higher since the end of last week. At the moment, gold remains very much a case of ‘buying on the dips’ and it has managed to hold above $1,800/oz,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

“Gold prices need to try and push towards highs we saw in August, around $1,830, but for the time being, it’s probably not going to see much movement ahead of the payrolls numbers.”

Making gold less expensive for other currency holders, the dollar index held near multi-week lows, pressured by a private payrolls report that missed expectations.

While U.S. jobless claims are due at 1230 GMT, the Labour Department will release the non-farm payrolls report for August on Friday.

A Reuters poll forecast 728,000 jobs were created in August.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week the labour market recovery would determine when the central bank would start cutting asset purchases.

“The big rally of gold seen in the last 15 days has found an obstacle with the key level of $1,820,” Kinesis analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said in a note.

Silver was flat at $24.18 per ounce.

“On the fundamental side, the physical demand of the grey metal is expected to increase in the next few months thanks to the growing demand from the industrial sector,” De Casa added.

Platinum fell 0.4% to $999. Palladium was gained 0.2% to $2,446.87 per ounce. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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