PRECIOUS-Gold eases as dollar strengthens; monitors Syria, U.S. data
* Gold had gained 1.4 pct on Tuesday on safe-haven buying
* Obama gets support of key Republicans for Syria strike
* Dollar at 6-wk high as U.S. data boosts bets of Fed tapering
(Updates throughout, changes dateline from SINGAPORE)
LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Gold eased on Wednesday, following the previous session's gains, as the dollar rose after strong U.S. data boosted prospects the Federal Reserve would trim its stimulus this month, but prices held above $1,400 on continued concerns around Syria.
The metal rose as much as 1.4 percent on Tuesday after President Barack Obama won the backing of key figures in the U.S. Congress, including Republicans, in his call for limited strikes on Syria to punish the government for its suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.
Spot gold was down 0.5 percent to $1,405.06 an ounce by 1003 GMT. U.S. gold futures for December fell $6.50 to $1,405.70.
"Syria is obviously still lending support but as the days go and we approach the U.S. jobs report on Friday and more importantly the Fed meeting later this month, the market is getting nervous about a possible start to QE tapering and we see some price weakness," Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.
Gold rose to a 3-1/2 month high of $1,433.31 an ounce last week, when a U.S. strike on Syria seemed imminent, before retreating when President Obama decided to seek congressional approval and the UK parliament voted against any involvement in the possible strike.
"A key reason for gold to rally in response to Mideast tensions is the potential for oil supply disruptions that a U.S. strike or an escalation of the conflict may trigger," HSBC said in a note.
The positive correlation between gold and oil has been restored in the past few sessions as gold is seen as a hedge against oil-led inflationary pressures. Brent crude was also weaker on Wednesday, but holding around $115 a barrel.
The dollar steadied around an earlier six-week peak, as encouraging U.S. data on Thursday showed that the country's economy continues to gather momentum. Gold, however, paid little heed to the data, as investors concentrated on Syria.
Usually, gold holds an inverse correlation with the U.S. currency, with a stronger greenback making the metal denominated in dollar more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Markets were awaiting jobs data on Friday, which analysts said would give clues on whether the U.S. Fed will curtail its commodities-friendly stimulus measures as soon as this month. The central bank holds a two-day policy meeting on Sept. 17-18.
A scaling-back would hurt gold prices, which have been boosted by increased central bank liquidity over the past four years.
"Syria will continue to dominate headlines in choppy gold trading," VTB Capital said in a note. "However, the U.S. jobs report later in the week will steal some attention, especially given ongoing QE3 (stimulus) uncertainty."
Labour strikes began in South Africa's gold mines on Tuesday but main mining union National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday it had offered to lower its wage increase demands to gold companies, raising hopes of a possible compromise that could limit the duration of the action.
Spot silver dropped 1.2 percent to $23.88 an ounce. Spot platinum fell 0.3 percent to $1,526.24 an ounce, while spot palladium was down 0.3 percent at $713.97 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Keiron Henderson)