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Gold struggles near 2-1/2-week low on US jobs data

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Gold struggled near a 2-1/2-week low on Monday, retaining losses from the prior three sessions, after U.S. payrolls data failed to provide clarity on the timing of a Federal Reserve rate hike.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,123.15 an ounce by 0637 GMT. The metal had fallen to $1,116.75 on Friday, the lowest since Aug. 19, posting its second straight weekly loss.

Bullion slid on Friday after data showed U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased 173,000 last month following an upwardly revised gain of 245,000 in July, although the jobless rate dropped to a 7-1/2-year low.

Investors had been awaiting the jobs report to gauge the strength of the economic recovery and whether it would prompt the U.S. central bank to hike rates at its policy meet later this month. The Fed has already indicated that the timing of a hike is largely data-dependent.

"While the U.S. economy added fewer-than-expected jobs in August, one was still left with the impression following Friday's non-farm payrolls report that the labour market is in pretty good health," ANZ analysts said in a note.

"The overall tone of the data was certainly solid enough to leave the Fed in play later this month."

Bullion traders said gold will likely be under pressure until the Fed meet on Sept. 16-17 due to persistent uncertainty. Gold prices have been dented this year by expectations the Fed will hike rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

Higher rates could diminish demand for non-interest-paying bullion.

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Weakness in the dollar and equity markets failed to provide an upside to gold, typically seen as a safe-haven asset.

The dollar steadied on Monday, after dropping on mixed U.S. employment data.

Asian stocks sagged, with risk sentiment dampened as Shanghai shares wobbled after the Chinese markets resumed trading following a four-day long weekend.

Gold prices got little support with the resumption of trading in key gold consumer China.

Premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange were steady at about $4 an ounce on Monday, indicating stable buying interest.

With the U.S. markets closed for the Labor Day holiday on Monday, trading is likely to be thin.