PRECIOUS-Gold holds gains as US jobs data soothes interest rate fears

* Gold steady after 1.2 pct gain on Friday

* SPDR sees 1.8 tonne outflow

* Physical markets quiet; China closed for holiday

(Adds comments from trader, updates prices) SINGAPORE, April 7 (Reuters) - Gold held onto gains on Monday following its biggest one-day jump in over three weeks as investor worries about an early U.S. interest rate hike eased when the nonfarm payrolls report failed to meet market expectations. Data on Friday showed that U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased of 200,000. Markets feared that a strong jobs report, which followed a recent string of good economic data, could prompt a tightening of U.S. monetary policy after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated last month that interest rates could rise in the first half of 2015. Low interest rates, which cut the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion above other assets, had been an important factor driving bullion higher in recent years. Spot gold was steady at $1,302.36 an ounce by 0349 GMT, after gaining 1.2 percent on Friday - its biggest percentage increase since March 12. The metal wasn't too far from a one-week high of $1,306.50 hit in the previous session. "It's a relief rally because markets were expecting a much stronger payrolls number," said a Sydney-based trader. "It was only a small miss but people are glad that nothing much is going to change with the stimulus because of this." UOB-Kay Hian Securities analyst Helen Lau said the state of the U.S. economy will continue to be the prime factor driving gold prices in the near term. Despite the weak jobs report, data on Friday showed that investors pulled money out of bullion, raising the risk that the gains in prices might not last. SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 1.80 tonnes to 809.18 tonnes on Friday. Hedge funds and money managers reduced their bullish bets in gold futures and options for a second straight week as easing geopolitical tensions and a stronger tone to the U.S. economy triggered gold selling, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. In the physical markets, demand was subdued as markets in top buyer China were closed for the Tomb Sweeping holiday. Weak physical demand has weighed on gold prices recently, due to discounted prices and weak imports in China over the last month.


Metal Last Change Pct chg Spot gold 1302.36 0.24 0.02 Spot silver 19.85 -0.04 -0.2 Spot platinum 1440.75 -2.75 -0.19 Spot palladium 787.5 1 0.13 Comex gold 1302.9 -0.6 -0.05 Comex silver 19.905 -0.041 -0.21 Euro 1.3697 DXY 80.439

COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin and Gopakumar Warrier)