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PRECIOUS-Gold eases but on track for first weekly gain in four weeks

 (Updates prices)
    * Silver set for first weekly gain in four weeks
    * Platinum eyes best week since late March
    * U.S. job growth slows sharply

    By Shreyansi Singh
    Dec 4 (Reuters) - Gold fell on Friday as investors booked
profits from sharp gains in the previous sessions while equities
rallied, but bets for fresh U.S. stimulus buoyed bullion's
appeal as an inflation hedge and kept it on track for its first
weekly gain in four weeks.
    Spot gold        was down 0.3% at $1,834.92 per ounce by
2:05 p.m. EST (1905 GMT), on track for a weekly gain of about
2.6%. U.S. gold futures        settled down 0.1% at $1,840.
    "After a superb four-day bounce, gold is running into
profit-taking ahead of a key technical level at $1,850;
considered a significant hurdle as it was remarkably resilient
as support over the past two months," said Tai Wong, head of
base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO.
    "Gold's reaction to a notably weak U.S. payrolls report -
selling off instead of rallying - suggests bargain-hunters might
be sated for the moment," adding there could be some modest but
steady "program selling" possibly by exchange traded funds.
    Data on Friday showed the U.S. economy added the fewest
workers in six months in November, cementing expectations of
more fiscal stimulus that lifted Wall Street's main indexes to
all-time highs.                  
    A bipartisan, $908 billion coronavirus aid bill drew support
in the U.S. Congress on Thursday.                          
    Non-yielding bullion is considered a hedge against inflation
likely to result from the unprecedented stimulus. 
    "Beyond near-term corrections, a weaker dollar, negative
real rates, concerns surrounding inflation and expectations of
further fiscal stimulus amid accommodative monetary policy are
likely to keep gold price risk-skewed to the upside," Standard
Chartered analyst Suki Cooper said.
    Meanwhile, the dollar was headed for its worst week since
early November, making gold cheaper for holders of other
currencies.        
    Platinum        gained 2.9% to $1,059.17 per ounce, and was
on track for its best week since late March.
    Silver        rose 0.2% to $24.11 an ounce, while palladium
       was up 2.3% at $2,353.56.

 (Reporting by Shreyansi Singh and Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru;
Editing by Andrea Ricci, Paul Simao and Jonathan Oatis)
  
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