July 5, 2019 / 4:36 AM / 15 days ago

PRECIOUS-Gold prices steady ahead of U.S. payrolls, on track for 7th weekly gain

* Gold up nearly 0.5% so far this week

* Palladium set for 5th weekly rise

* Spot gold may retest resistance at $1,435/oz-technicals (Updates prices)

By Brijesh Patel

July 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices were steady on Friday, heading for a seventh consecutive weekly rise, as investors waited for U.S. employment data that could influence expectations about aggressive policy easing by the Federal Reserve.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,415.82 per ounce as of 0725 GMT, adding nearly 0.5% so far this week.

U.S. gold futures were down 0.2% at $1,417.60 an ounce.

“We have a key event tonight for the global economy that is U.S. non-farm payrolls numbers. If they come in weaker than expected, we will see confirmation of one of the key supports for gold that is lower interest rate environment,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist, CMC Markets.

All eyes are on the U.S. non-farm payrolls report due later in the day, which economists expect to have risen by 160,000 in June, compared with a rise of 75,000 in May.

The Fed holds its two-day policy meeting on July 30-31 and futures are fully pricing in a 25 basis point cut.

The Fed is not alone in embarking on easier monetary policy. Australia’s central bank has cut its cash rate by 50 basis points since June while leaving the door ajar for a third move this year.

“Gold should do well coming out of non-farm payrolls data as one positive payroll print should not change the sense of urgency central banks around the world must feel,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.

Bullion has gained more than 12%, or $150, since touching its 2019 low of $1,265.85 in early May, driven by dovish outlook from major central banks and an escalation in tensions between the United States and Iran.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, making gold cheaper for investors holding other currencies.

Meanwhile, the dollar index rose on Friday against a basket of six major currencies, having spent the previous day in a tight range as the U.S. financial markets were closed for the Independence Day holiday.

On the technical side, spot gold may retest a resistance at $1,435 per ounce, with a good chance of breaking above this level and rising into a range of $1,443-$1,456, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, silver fell 0.3% to $15.23 per ounce, while platinum edged 0.1% higher to $833.18.

Palladium rose 0.2% to $1,565.05 an ounce and was heading for a fifth straight weekly gain. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford and Subhranshu Sahu)

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