Gold flat, retreats from 13-month high in volatile session

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Gold prices were flat on Friday, late in a seesaw session that took prices to a 13-month high twice on technical and underlying investment demand, with a sharp drop in between due to forecast-beating U.S. payrolls data.

In early trade, spot gold hit its highest in 13 months, and did so again later at $1,279.60 an ounce. The precious metal has been driven up 19 percent this year by economic concerns, which sparked volatility in equities and oil prices and boosted gold's appeal as a safe haven.

Strong investor interest continued to underpin gold prices even after the payrolls data. Spot gold was down 0.02 percent at $1,258.71 an ounce, after falling 1.1 percent to $1,249.90.

Gold futures for April delivery settled up 1 percent at $1,270.70 an ounce and last traded at $1,260, up 0.14 percent.

"It started out with strong gains overnight, based on continued dollar weakness, but as we got closer to the jobs release, the market cautiously pared back," said James Steel, chief metals analyst for HSBC Securities in New York.

"That selling was absorbed very readily. Technically we turned out of the bear market last night."

Prices pared gains after Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan said he expects solid growth in the U.S. economy this year and does not expect the economy to fall into recession.

U.S. Labor Department data that employment gains surged in February, the clearest sign yet of job market strength that could further ease fears the economy was heading into recession and add to the argument for the Fed raising interest rates.

"The data was all about the future Fed move and the data released has confirmed that the Fed are not off beat with their strategy," Ava Trade's chief market analyst Naeem Aslam said.

"Now the main focus will be toward the Fed's upcoming meeting in a few weeks' time, and how they are going to play with the growth revision forecast."

Investment interest has been driven by concerns over the global economy.

Holdings of the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares, rose nearly 5 tonnes on Thursday, data from the fund showed.

BlackRock's iShares Gold Trust said it had suspended the issuing of shares in its physically backed gold exchange traded product due to a historic surge in buying.

Copper settled up almost 3 percent, ending the week up 7.04 percent in the best weekly performance since December 2011.

Silver futures were up 2.57 percent at $15.53 an ounce, while platinum futures were up 4.1 percent at $981.00 an ounce and palladium was up 2.5 percent at $553.38 an ounce.

— CNBC's Gina Francolla contributed to this report.