October 5, 2018 / 6:30 PM / 2 months ago

PRECIOUS-Gold inches up as dollar eases after tepid U.S. jobs data

* Gold edges up as weak U.S. data hits stocks, dollar

* Gold on track for 0.8 pct weekly gain

* Bullion remains 12 percent below April peak (Updates prices)

By Swati Verma

BENGALURU, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Gold edged higher on Friday, on track for its biggest weekly gain in six, as the dollar softened after data showed U.S. job growth slowed more than expected last month and a slide in stock markets burnished the appeal of bullion as a safe haven.

Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,201.82 an ounce by 13:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT), and was on track to rise about 0.8 percent this week, the most since the week of Aug. 24.

U.S. gold futures settled up $4, or 0.3 percent, at $1,205.60.

"The weaker-than-expected jobs data is supporting the overall current mood but the numbers were not disappointing enough to trigger fresh buying," said Heraeus precious metals trader Alexander Zumpfe.

"However, the data helped gold to establish itself above the pivotal $1,200 mark and I wouldn't rule out a test of this week's high at $1,208."

The dollar weakened and stock markets fell after data showed U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased by 134,000 jobs in September, the fewest in a year.

However, the Labor Department's monthly employment report also showed a steady rise in wages, suggesting moderate inflation pressures, which could allow the Federal Reserve to maintain a path of gradual interest rate increases.

A weaker dollar makes bullion less expensive for buyers using other currencies. But rising interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

Gold remains "relatively cheap, so attractive to value-based investors and others looking for a hedge" against uncertainty, said Societe Generale analyst Robin Bhar. Gold is seen as a safe store of value for investors during times of political and economic uncertainty.

Despite this week's gains, gold prices have fallen more than 12 percent from a peak in April largely due to strength in the dollar, which has benefited from a vibrant U.S. economy, rising U.S. interest rates and fears of a global trade war.

"The gold markets are still very short, which is highly unusual. In such a situation, a short covering rally can be expected if there's anything to stimulate the market," said Walter Pehowich, executive vice president of investment services at Dillon Gage Metals.

"Overall, it's just a wait-and-see attitude to see what happens in the run up to the mid-term elections in the United States" in November.

Among other precious metals, spot silver was up 0.3 percent to $14.61 and palladium gained over 1 percent to $1,069.40.

Platinum inched 0.3 percent lower at $819.49 an ounce. (Reporting by Swati Verma, Arpan Varghese and Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)

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