October 5, 2018 / 7:34 AM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold little changed; U.S. non-farm payroll data awaited

* Spot gold may test support at $1,193 - technicals

* Treasury yields rise to 7-yr highs (Updates prices)

By Sumita Layek

BENGALURU, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices held steady on Friday as investors remained cautious after U.S. Treasury yields hit multi-year peaks and on expectations that strong jobs data later in the day could boost the Federal Reserve's case for a tighter monetary policy.

Investors are expected to scour the U.S. government's September payroll report scheduled for release on Friday and look closely for signs of wage growth.

A Reuters survey showed economists on average expect a rise of 185,000 in September after a jump of 201,000 in August.

Spot gold inched down 0.1 percent to $1,197.64 an ounce at 0723 GMT.

U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,201.3 an ounce.

"A robust NFP (non-farm payroll) print coupled with signs of rising wage growth could fuel expectations over the Fed tightening policy faster than projected," said Lukman Otunuga, Research Analyst for FXTM.

"This is bad news for zero-yielding gold which losses attraction in a high-interest rate environment."

The Fed raised U.S. rates last week and said it planned four more increases by the end of 2019 and another in 2020, citing steady economic growth and a robust jobs market.

"Another U.S. benchmark interest rate expected before the end of this year is underpinning current U.S. dollar strength, which in turn is keeping the U.S. dollar gold price subdued," said Ronan Manly, precious metals analyst at Singapore-based dealer BullionStar.

Higher interest rates tend to boost the dollar and push bond yields up, putting pressure on gold prices by increasing the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

The dollar index was up 0.1 percent against a basket of six major currencies, as investors evaluated the impact of a two-day global government bond rout that has lifted U.S. Treasury yields to seven-year highs.

"We haven't seen the sharp declines in gold like we have in the past, but definitely there is plain downward pressure (from higher Treasury yields)," said National Australia Bank economist John Sharma.

Spot gold may test a support at $1,193 per ounce, a break below which could cause a loss to the next support at $1,188, while a break above $1,207 could lead to a gain into $1,214-$1,222 range, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, spot silver was down 0.2 percent at $14.52. Palladium edged 0.3 percent lower to $1,056.30 while platinum was down 0.2 percent at $820.24. (Reporting by Sumita Layek and Vijaykumar Vedala in Bengaluru; editing by Sunil Nair and Vyas Mohan)

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