* Market awaits Friday’s U.S. non-farm payrolls data
* Chinese gold imports from Hong Kong fall from record
* Worries over Indian demand simmer after RBI announcement (Updates prices)
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Wednesday after U.S. jobs data missed expectations, curbing speculation the Federal Reserve may start paring back its $85 billion monthly bond-buying programme.
The bond purchases are part of a package of Fed stimulus measures known as quantitative easing, which have helped push gold prices to record highs in recent years by keeping interest rates at rock bottom and stoking fears over inflation.
Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,404.17 an ounce at 1401 GMT, having earlier touched a session low of $1,395.19. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were up $8.40 an ounce at $1,405.60, off a low of $1,395.10.
A report by payrolls processor ADP showed U.S. private employers added 135,000 jobs in May, falling short of expectations. The data is seen as an important precursor to Friday’s monthly non-farm payrolls report.
Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said the jobs data was being closely watched by gold traders.
“As the unemployment rate has been explicitly tied into quantitative easing, there has been a direct correlation between the non-farm payrolls and what happens to the gold price,” he said.
Hawkish comments from Fed members of late have fuelled speculation that the bank may start to rein in its bond-buying programme.
Kansas City Fed President Esther George said on Tuesday slowing the pace of bond buying would not mean tightening U.S. monetary policy and would help wean financial markets off their dependence on cheap money from the central bank.
China’s total gold imports from Hong Kong fell to 125.715 tonnes in April from a record high of 223.519 tonnes in the previous month, despite a drop in prices of the metal to two-year lows during the month.
Gold stayed under pressure on concerns that demand from number one buyer India will be hurt by fresh moves by the Reserve Bank of India to curb gold imports.
“Various comments from officials hint at the potential for more measures to come, as the government is taking a hard line trying to curb the country’s appetite for gold,” UBS said in a note. “This poses a risk for Indian gold demand up ahead should more and more restrictions be implemented.”
Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.9 percent at $22.62 an ounce, while spot platinum was up 1 percent at $1,502.50 an ounce, and spot palladium was up 0.3 percent at $750.65 an ounce.
Platinum extended its premium over gold to more than $100 on Wednesday, its highest since August 2011, as the white metal benefited from concerns over supply from South Africa, source of three-quarters of the world’s platinum. (Editing by James Jukwey and Elaine Hardcastle)