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PRECIOUS-Gold slips to over 4-month low on early Fed tapering fears

* Silver hits a more than eight-month low of $22.50/oz

* Gold fell as much as 4.4% in early Asia trade

* Platinum hits a low since November 2020 (Adds comments, updates prices)

Aug 9 (Reuters) - Gold slipped to a more than four-month low on Monday as solid U.S. jobs data stoked concerns of a sooner-than-expected interest rate hike, which could increase the opportunity cost of holding non-interest bearing bullion.

Spot gold fell 1.1% to $1,744.25 per ounce by 0616 GMT.

In early Asia trade, prices slumped as much as 4.4% to $1,684.37, their lowest since March 31, triggered by some stop-loss selling. Trading was thin with Tokyo and Singapore on holiday.

U.S. gold futures were down 1.1% at $1,744.50.

The technical picture does not look good for gold and short-term negativity is likely to continue, said Harshal Barot, a senior research consultant for South Asia at Metals Focus.

However, “the pandemic is not truly behind us... There will be investors who will be looking for these levels to buy up gold as a protection,” he added.

Data from the U.S. Labor Department showed employers hired the most workers in nearly a year in July and continued to raise wages.

That underscored remarks by Fed officials suggesting a sooner than anticipated roll-back of pandemic-era stimulus on the back of a solid labour market recovery.

The data helped lift the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields, hurting gold’s appeal as an inflation hedge.

Meanwhile, the dollar index hit a two-week high on Monday.

“Gold’s metal will probably get tested into the CPI data this week,” said Stephen Innes, a managing partner at SPI Asset Management, adding that a strong inflation number could increase the probability of an early interest rate hike.

Silver slumped as much as 7.5%, hitting a more than eight-month low of $22.50 per ounce earlier in the session. It was last down 1.7% at $23.93.

Platinum fell 0.1% to $978.60, having earlier hit a low since November 2020 of $959.93. Palladium edged 0.1% higher to $2,629.87. (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Ramakrishnan M.)

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