Gold above 3½ month low after US jobs data

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Gold on Thursday rebounded slightly from an earlier 3½ month low after data showed the U.S. labor market was weaker in June than expected, indicating that the Federal Reserve may hold off from raising interest rates in September.

U.S. job growth slowed in June and Americans left the labor force in droves.

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slid 1 percent to $1,156.85 an ounce, the lowest since March 18, before the U.S. data and was trading down 0.4 percent at $1,163.61.

U.S. gold futures for August delivery settled down $5.80 at $1,163.50 per ounce.

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"We don't need many more numbers for the Fed to see that a September rate hike will be too early," Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.

"It was probably what the gold market needed to avoid triggering more selling appetite."

The dollar retreated from an earlier three-week high against a basket of major currencies.

The jobs report was being watched closely for indications of a U.S. economic rebound after a first-quarter slump. The Fed has said that it will raise rates only if it sees signs of a sustained economic recovery.

"The underlying composition of the report is much worse than it appears in the headlines," said Trey Reik, precious metal strategist for Sprott Asset Management USA, in Connecticut.

"You have more people working part-time involuntarily."

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Gold prices have been hamstrung by the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates this year, which would increase the opportunity cost of holding the metal.

The market was also following developments in the Greek debt crisis, which has so far failed to trigger strong retail demand for the metal, which is often perceived as a safe-haven asset.

The focus in the Greek crisis is on Sunday's referendum.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged Greeks to reject an international bailout deal, wrecking any prospect of repairing relations with European Union partners before the referendum, which could decide Greece's future in Europe.

The crisis could drive more risk-averse money into gold if Greece leaves the euro zone, or if contagion reaches other economies in the bloc, such as Italy, Portugal or Spain, traders said.

Silver rose 0.3 percent to $15.58 an ounce after dropping 1.3 percent in the previous session. Palladium was down 0.8 percent at $690.75, and platinum fell 0.2 percent to $1,077.49.