PRECIOUS-Gold retreats as ECB comments, U.S. data lift dollar
* Gold finds its feet after Wednesday's hefty drop
* ECB pledges to keep interest rates ultra low
* Chinese gold imports from Hong Kong rise in July
(Updates prices, adds comment)
LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Gold surrendered gains on Thursday to edge lower as a pledge from the European Central Bank to keep interest rates low lifted the dollar, but prices held in a narrow range ahead of U.S. jobs data on Friday.
The euro fell to a six-week low against the dollar after the European Central Bank said on Thursday it was ready to cut interest rates or pump more money into the euro zone economy if necessary to bring money market rates down.
Spot gold was down 0.5 percent at $1,385.52 an ounce at 1401 GMT, off a session high of $1,399.06. U.S. gold futures for December delivery were down $4.40 $1,385.60.
Attention is now turning to U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday, a barometer of the economic recovery and U.S. monetary policy.
A 15 percent drop in gold prices this year has been driven largely by speculation the Federal Reserve will start reducing its quantitative easing programme, with an announcement foreseen at its September 17-18 meeting.
"The main focus is the Fed," Citi analyst David Wilson said. "Everyone is trying to pre-judge what the Fed might do, so if the employment numbers are better than expected it will heighten the sense that tapering will be sooner rather than later, and the reverse if the data's below expectations."
Data from payrolls processor ADP on Friday showed U.S. private employers added 176,000 jobs in August, which could bolster expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin winding down a bond-buying stimulus program this month.
GOLD PRICES EXTEND LOSSES
European shares rose, Euribor futures pared losses and the euro weakened on Thursday after the ECB signalled that interest rates will stay low for some time in the face of downside risks to growth.
Spot gold prices fell 1.5 percent on Wednesday after upbeat U.S. data lifted stocks and as oil prices fell on expectations that a military strike against Syria - which helped lift gold to 3-1/2 month high last week - would remain limited.
Hong Kong's gold exports to China rose to 129.232 tonnes in July from 111.718 tonnes in June, data from the Hong Kong government showed on Thursday.
Silver was down 0.6 percent at $23.31 an ounce, while spot platinum was down 0.3 percent at $1,483.24 an ounce. Spot palladium was down 1.7 percent at $683.97 an ounce.
Platinum miners in South Africa, the source of three-quarters of world platinum supply, are watching the progress of pay negotiations in the gold sector.
Shares of South African gold producers rose more than 4 percent on Thursday as investors bet unions and management would soon reach an agreement over wages, ending a strike by tens of thousands of miners.
"The more compromising tone struck by the NUM seemed to have had more impact on platinum, in terms of bringing prices down by nearly 3 percent in yesterday's trading, as opposed to gold, which fell only 1.5 percent," Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said.
(Editing by William Hardy)