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PRECIOUS-Gold hits eight-week low after U.S. jobs data

David Brough
Friday, 2 Nov 2012 | 1:43 PM ET

* U.S. non-farm payrolls data beats expectations

* Dollar rises to 7-week high against currency basket

* Indian gold buying picked up as prices retreated

LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Gold slid to an eight-week low on Friday as the dollar jumped after data showing higher-than-expected U.S. job creation, the last major signal on the state of the world's largest economy before elections next Tuesday.

The payrolls data showed employers added 171,000 jobs in October versus forecasts of 125,000, while the jobless rate met expectations at 7.9 percent.

The dollar, having already hit a seven-week high in the run up to the data, also climbed against the euro, with the euro buying $1.2857.

Spot gold was at $1,695.65 at 1325 GMT, down 1.42 percent, having touched an eight-week low of $1,692.19 after the data. U.S. gold futures for December fell $20.00 an ounce to $1,695.50.

``The dollar got a boost on the upside, and so gold saw some long liquidation and some stops were hit,'' said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS Finance.

Nabavi said he expected $1,690 to be a key support level near term, and resistance to stand at $1,700.

``Ahead of the U.S. election the market will be nervous and undecided, so we should have volatile trading until Wednesday morning,'' he said.

In the longer term, a positive reading on jobs could weigh on gold if it trims expectations for monetary easing.

The U.S. authorities have explicitly tied the extent of monetary stimulus measures - news of which sent gold above $1,795 an ounce in October - to the health of the jobs market.

Looser monetary policy stokes longer-term inflationary fears and maintains pressure on interest rates, both good for gold.

However, while the data was good, analysts say it is far from a level that would yet stoke fears of an imminent reversal of the Fed's commitment to easing.

``When you dig deeper into it, it's still not a robust number by any means,'' Charles Schwab fixed income strategist Kathy Jones said. ``We're way short of where we need to be to bring down the unemployment rate to where the Fed would like to see, closer to 6 percent than 8 percent.''

SUPPORT SEEN AT $1,693

From a technical perspective, support for gold could hold at $1,693, a key retracement of gold's rise from its lows for the year at $1,527 in May to its October high, analysts said.

On the physical markets, gold importers in India, historically the world's biggest gold consumer, rushed to stock up ahead of major festivals after prices of the metal fell to their lowest in nearly a month.

India is approaching the height of its festival season, with the Diwali and Dhanteras later this month. Gold is a key part of gifts and is used for dowries at weddings, which are popular at this time of year.

Data released by the Istanbul Gold Exchange on Friday showed Turkey's gold imports fell to 3.7 tonnes in October from 7.49 tonnes a year earlier, and 3.84 tonnes in September.

In South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti suspended operations at one of its mines on Friday, a sign that labour tensions continue to bubble in the sector despite the official resolution of weeks of wildcat walkouts.

Platinum and palladium were both headed for their first weekly gains after three weeks of straight falls, although spot platinum lost half a percent to $1,553.99 and spot palladium fell 0.84 percent to $605.47.

October auto sales data pointed to still-sluggish car demand, curbing consumption expectations for platinum and palladium, which are chiefly used in catalytic converters.

France posted its twelfth straight monthly fall in new car registrations on Friday, while German new car registrations rose by slightly more than 1 percent in October, having slumped 11 percent in September, according to a source.

Silver was down 1.40 percent at $31.76 an ounce.