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Gold slips as focus shifts to US payrolls data

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Gold fell on Tuesday after Federal Reserve officials sounded a hawkish note on interest rates, boosting the dollar, while attention turned to U.S. payrolls data this week for further clues on the pace of rate hikes.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday the case for higher rates was strengthening, though she gave little clarity on the timing of a move. Later that day Vice Chair Stanley Fischer suggested a hike could come as soon as September.

In an interview on Tuesday, Fischer added that the U.S. job market is nearly at full strength, and said the pace of interest rate increases by the Fed will depend on how well the economy is doing.

Stocks heading higher?

Spot gold was down 0.78 percent at $1,312.71 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled down $10.60 at $1,316.50 and were last down $11.10 an ounce at $1,316.

Non-farm payrolls due on Friday are seen as a key measure of the strength of the U.S. labour market, and could reinforce hawkish messages from Yellen and other Fed officials.

"It looks as though we're going to see another pretty solid month of jobs gains, and that should mean that there's a return (of expectations for) a September rise -- there's still an outside chance of that, according to Fed funds futures -- or more realistically, a December rate rise," Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said.

"That is probably going to weigh on gold." Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.

The curious case of gold and bonds

The dollar was slightly higher against the euro on Tuesday as investors focused on the next set of U.S. data to see whether it supports expectations the Fed will raise interest rates soon.

Employers are expected on Friday to show 180,000 job gains in August, according to a Reuters poll, below the better-than-expected 255,000 additions in July and 292,000 gains in June.

"With investors pricing in a greater likelihood of a Fed rate increase before year end, pressure is likely to continue to weigh on gold," MKS said in a note.

Silver was down 1.11 percent at $18.63 an ounce, having hit a two-month low of $18.36 in the previous session.

Platinum was 1.77 percent lower at $1,055, while palladium was down 3.06 percent at $674.72.