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Gold steadies on profit-taking, silver holds firm momentum

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Gold was little changed on Monday, as profit-taking set in after rallying on U.S. economic data that pushed back expectations of a Federal Reserve interest rate rise to early 2016, while silver extended gains on chart-based buying.

Spot gold had turned down 0.2 percent at $1,134.66 an ounce. U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up 0.1 percent at $1,138.10.

The metal gained 2.2 percent on Friday, its biggest one-day rise since Jan. 15, after data showed U.S. employers slammed the brakes on hiring over the last two months. On Monday, data showed new orders and business activity slowed in the United States.

"A somewhat improved outlook for gold in light of weaker-than-expected U.S. economic activity most likely will keep the Fed away from the trigger on the Fed funds rate," said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy for TD Securities in Toronto.

Higher rates would increase the opportunity cost of holding gold, a non-interest-paying asset.

Melek said gold prices appeared to have come off their highs on profit taking.

"The interest rate rise is the mechanism by which the (U.S. jobs data) is being rated but the real issue is whether the U.S. economy is slowing," Macquarie analyst Matthew Turner said.

"However, other indicators such as car sales were strong, and we need more evidence on that one before we can come to a conclusion, and gold's support could be short lived."

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Silver rallied 5.4 percent on Friday then extended gains on Monday on technical buying to its highest in nearly 3 months at $15.71 an ounce, before paring gains to a rise of 2.5 percent at $15.62. It soared above its 100-day moving average and neared its 200-day moving average at $15.93.

Platinum was trading up 0.3 percent at $907.99, after hitting a near-seven-year-low of $888 in the previous session.

Expectations of lower demand after revelations last month that Volkswagen falsified U.S. vehicle emission tests, which some believe could affect demand for diesel cars, hit platinum prices. The metal is widely used in auto catalysts, particularly for diesel engines.

The metal is trading at its smallest premium to palladium since 2001.

Palladium earlier rose 2 percent to $710.50 an ounce, its highest since June and rising above its 200-day moving average, boosted by hopes that demand for gasoline cars, where the metal is used in catalysts, could increase. It turned down 0.8 percent to $689.72.