PRECIOUS-Gold rises, tension builds ahead of US job data
(Changes dateline, updates prices, recasts)
* US payroll focus for Fed taper; Dec, Jan on the cards
* Reality of stimulus reduction undermining sentiment
Dec 6 (Reuters) - Gold rose on Friday, regaining some ground after sharp losses the previous day, but was still on course for a weekly loss as investors focused on U.S. employment data that might lead to the curbing of monetary stimulus.
Spot gold was almost half a percent higher at $1,229.75 an ounce by 1109 GMT, on course for a nearly 2 percent weekly drop after plumbing five-month lows earlier this week.
Prices dropped sharply on Thursday as data showed the U.S. economy grew faster than estimated in the third quarter and the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, building a case for the U.S. Federal Reserve to start scaling back its bond-buying programme.
Playing against that, however, underlying domestic demand remained sluggish.
U.S. non-farm payrolls, due at 1330 GMT, could give more hints on the timing of any stimulus tapering. Economists polled by Reuters expect 180,000 jobs were added in November.
Analysts said that, whatever the outcome, the reality of stimulus reduction meant gold was poised for more losses.
"We see nothing in terms of flow, premiums, activity or anything like that to suggest there's any desire to call the bottom of the market here and for people to get involved again on the long side," Credit Suisse analyst Tom Kendall said.
"Whether the Fed votes to begin tapering in December or January, the recent data has been fairly encouraging. The economy continues to move in the right direction."
The Fed has tied tapering of its bond-buying programme to an improvement in the labour market. Its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases has led to very low interest rates, which is to the advantage of non yield-bearing assets.
In the physical market, Indian gold premiums hit a record $160 an ounce on Thursday as the wedding season fuelled demand, while supplies there remained low.
Premiums in other parts of Asia remained stable as lower prices failed to trigger a surge in demand.
Silver took its queue from gold, rising 0.8 percent on the day to $19.50 per ounce. Spot platinum fell almost 0.3 percent to $1,354.30 while palladium lost 0.1 percent to $730.97.
(Additonal reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by Jane Baird)