Gold up jumps as dollar pauses; focus on US jobs data

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Gold rose one percent on Tuesday as the dollar paused and global shares fell ahead of U.S. non-farm payroll data later in the week that could give clues as to when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

Spot gold fell initially then firmed 0.5 percent to $1,193 an ounce. U.S. gold futures for June delivery were up $6 an ounce at $1,193. ``Gold was firm yesterday and is continuing the trend today, with dollar weakness helping,'' Deutsche Borse's MNI senior analyst Tony Walters said.

The dollar pared earlier gains to trade flat against a basket of major currencies.

Gold fell to a six-week low of $1,170 on Friday after the Federal Reserve indicated it saw a slowdown in the U.S. economy as transitory and did not rule out a rate rise this year. ``U.S. data will continue to be very important -- if it's good, we will eventually get lower gold prices,'' Natixis analyst Bernard Dahdah said.

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However, with a rate hike now likely in September rather than June, gold prices will probably remain in the current range for longer and will not drop as quickly as previously thought, Dahdah added.

Speculation over the timing of a rate rise has kept markets on edge. Doubts still persist over the robustness of the U.S. economy as data has been mixed, with many traders pushing expectations of a rate increase from June to later this year.

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Strong data, however, could prompt the Fed to raise interest rates soon, a move investors would expect to dent demand for bullion, which does not pay interest. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans provided no clarity on the issue on Monday. He said rate increases could begin this year, although with inflation uncomfortably low and the unemployment rate still too high, the U.S. central bank should hold off on raising rates until early next year.

An early rate increase this year is not as unlikely as markets believe, said Mark To, head of research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung Financial Group.