February 5, 2018 / 3:57 AM / in 5 months

PRECIOUS-Gold rises on declining equities amid rate hike views

    * Spot gold may fall to $1,316/oz - technicals
    * Silver off over 1-month lows
    * Platinum off 2-week lows hit Friday

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Sethuraman N R
    Feb 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices inched up on Monday as
declining equities lent support to the yellow metal even though
robust U.S. jobs data potentially increased the chances of more
interest rate hikes this year.
    Spot gold        was up 0.1 percent at $1,334.23 per ounce
by 0817 GMT, after declining 1.2 percent on Friday in its
biggest one-day fall since Dec. 7, 2017. The metal posted its
biggest weekly drop since the week ended Dec. 8, 2017.
    U.S. gold futures         were steady at $1,337 per ounce.
    "A better-than-expected Chinese Caxin services PMI number
pushed the gold price lower (early in the session) ... While the
equity markets rout deepens, we expect the money flow to favour
the gold price," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think
Markets.
    China's services sector got off to a flying start in 2018,
expanding at its fastest pace in almost six years as new orders
surged and companies rushed to hire more staff, a private survey
showed on Monday.             
    Asian shares fell the most in over a year on Monday as fears
of resurgent inflation battered bonds, toppled Wall Street from
record highs and sparked speculation that central banks globally
might be forced to tighten policy more aggressively.            
    Non-farm payrolls rose by 200,000 jobs in January, the U.S.
Labor Department said, beating expectations of 180,000 and their
largest annual gain in more than 8-1/2 years. Average hourly
earnings rose and boosted the year-on-year increase to 2.9
percent, the largest rise since June 2009.             
    Futures markets         reacted on Friday after the jobs
data by pricing in the risk of three, or even more, rate rises
from the U.S. Federal Reserve this year. 
    The Fed last week held interest rates unchanged, but raised
its inflation outlook and flagged "further gradual" rate
increases.             
    "We have a bearish outlook for gold ... yield-chasing
behaviour and a rosy economic outlook should pressure the yellow
metal lower," said OCBC analyst Barnabas Gan.
    "The higher interest rate environment will actually fuel
further risk-taking and is not good for gold." 
    Meanwhile, hedge funds and money managers raised their net
long position in COMEX gold contracts in the week to Jan. 30 to
their highest level since late-September, U.S. Commodity Futures
Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday.        
    Spot silver        climbed 0.8 percent to $16.72. Earlier,
it touched $16.54, matching a more than one-month low hit on
Friday.
    Silver fell 3.7 percent on Friday in its worst one-day
decline since Dec. 15, 2016. It also saw its worst week since
the week ended July 7, 2017, shedding 4.6 percent last week. 
    Platinum        rose 0.1 percent to $987.95, after touching
more than two-week low at $982 on Friday.
    Palladium        fell 1.4 percent to $1,032.24.

 (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in BengaluruEditing by Joseph
Radford and Subhranshu Sahu)
  
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