Gold eases on strong U.S. jobs data, inflation data eyed

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  • Geopolitical flare-ups may trigger fresh bids in gold- analyst
  • Gold will make a move toward $1,800 if inflation numbers are up
  • Platinum, palladium down nearly 2%

Dec 9 (Reuters) - Gold slipped on Thursday as the dollar firmed and data showed a big drop in U.S. jobless claims ahead of an inflation report that could influence the Federal Reserve's monetary strategy.

Spot gold was down 0.3% at $1,776.56 per ounce by 13:50 p.m. ET (1850 GMT), while U.S. gold futures settled down 0.5% at $1,776.70.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest in over 52 years. read more

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"The stronger-than-expected jobless claims numbers along with a firmer dollar is pulling down on gold, but there are also traders waiting for the CPI data," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

The dollar strengthened, making gold less attractive for overseas buyers.

"If inflation numbers are going to be high, then gold will bounce right back up and make a move towards $1,800," added Haberkorn.

Friday's U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) report will be followed by the Fed's policy meeting on Dec. 14-15.

Gold has traded in a relatively tight $1,760-$1,790 range since dropping below the key $1,800 level in late November, as investors attempted to gauge the Fed's possible pace of tapering stimulus and raising interest rates.

While gold is considered an inflation hedge, higher interest rates would increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

"Gold could see fresh bids if markets become fearful once more about pandemic-related developments or a ramp-up in geopolitical tensions between major economies," said Han Tan, chief market analyst at Exinity.

Apart from lingering uncertainties over the Omicron coronavirus variant, focus was also on tensions over Russia and its stance on Ukraine, the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics by some Western nations and U.S. sanctions on Iran. read more

Spot silver fell 1.7% to $22.02 per ounce, platinum dropped 1.9% to $938.50 and palladium dipped 2% to $1,817.68.

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Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad and Asha Sistla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Ramakrishnan M.

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