PRECIOUS-Gold prices steady ahead of U.S. jobs data

* Focus on U.S. nonfarm payrolls due on Friday

* Gold waits for further data cues, China opening

* Euro rallies versus dollar after ECB comments

(Updates prices, adds comment)

LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Gold prices steadied on Thursday, supported by a rally in the euro versus the dollar but held in check by a firmer tone to stock markets, and by caution ahead of a U.S. jobs report on Friday.

Stocks opened higher on Wall Street as a better-than-expected report on weekly U.S. jobless claims boosted confidence the economy was improving, curbing some interest in gold as an alternative asset.

It took support however from a rise in the euro versus the dollar after European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said the euro zone economy was proving resilient vis a vis emerging markets. Earlier the ECB held its main interest rates at 0.25 percent.

Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,258.20 an ounce by 1445 GMT. Gold rose around $20 an ounce to a near two-week high of $1,273.26 on Wednesday after a disappointing U.S. jobs report, but quickly fell back from that level.

"Gold should have done better considering the spike we are seeing in EUR/USD," Ole Hansen, head of commodity research at Saxo Bank, said.

"Several failed attempts above $1,272 has left many potential bulls on the sidelines, waiting for a definite break. Volumes have been quite subdued as well, so we probably need more fireworks. Next thing up will be the job report tomorrow."

U.S. gold futures for February delivery rose 0.1 percent to $1,258.20 an ounce.

A mixed bag of U.S. data has left investors on edge this week, adding to pressure stemming from the emerging markets turmoil.

Data released on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, in a boost to the labor market outlook and the broader economy.

Other data on Thursday showed a weakening in exports in December, which if it extends to January could see trade being a drag on growth in the first quarter after it helped to buoy the economy in the last three months of 2013.

Investors are now eyeing the Friday release of U.S. nonfarm payrolls data, a key gauge of the labour market, as any setback in economic growth could prompt the Federal Reserve to slow the pace of its stimulus tapering.


Concerns about the fragility of stock markets after a heavy selloff in recent months has piqued some investment interest in gold, with the world's largest bullion-backed exchange-traded fund, the SPDR Gold Trust, reporting a 3.9-tonne inflow on Tuesday. But holdings remained unchanged on Wednesday.

Bullion has gained around 4 percent so far this year, after a 28 percent drop in 2013, as slowing growth in China and capital outflows from emerging nations hit share markets.

However, analysts see any rally in the gold price as a selling opportunity, with current economic concerns not seen enough to derail the global economic recovery path.

In the physical markets, traders were waiting for the return of the Chinese market on Friday, after a week-long holiday for the Lunar New Year.

Platinum was down 0.1 percent at $1,373.25 an ounce. Government-brokered talks between mine union AMCU and the world's three biggest platinum producers to end a two week wage strike in South Africa have been adjourned to allow for individual consultations.

Silver was up 0.7 percent to $20.00 an ounce after a 2 percent gain overnight - its biggest one-day jump in nearly four weeks. Palladium rose 0.4 percent to $708.80 an ounce.

(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; editing by William Hardy)