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PRECIOUS-Gold nudges up ahead of U.S. payrolls, on track for 7th weekly gain

Brijesh Patel

* Gold up 0.7% so far this week

* Palladium set for 5th weekly rise

* Spot gold may retest resistance at $1,435/oz-technicals (Adds comments, details, updates prices)

July 5 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged higher on Friday and were on track for a seventh consecutive weekly gain, as investors awaited U.S. employment data that could influence expectations about aggressive policy easing by the Federal Reserve.

Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,418.25 per ounce as of 0401 GMT, rising nearly 0.7% so far this week.

U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,420.80 an ounce.

"We have a key event tonight for the global economy that is U.S. non-farm payrolls numbers. If they come in weaker than expected, we will see confirmation of one of the key supports for gold that is lower interest rate environment," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist, CMC Markets.

All eyes are on the U.S. non-farm payrolls (NFP) data due later in the day, which economists expect to have risen by 160,000 in June, compared with a rise of 75,000 in May.

The Fed holds its two-day policy meeting on July 30-31 and futures are fully pricing in a 25 basis point cut.

The Fed is not alone in embarking on easier monetary policy. Australia's central bank has cut its cash rate by 50 basis points since June while leaving the door ajar for a third move this year.

"Gold should do well coming out of NFP as one positive payroll print should not change the sense of urgency central banks around the world must feel," said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.

Bullion has gained more than 12%, or $150, since touching its 2019 low of $1,265.85 in early May, driven by dovish outlook from major central banks and an escalation in tensions between the United States and Iran.

Lower interest rates decrease the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion and weigh on the dollar, making gold cheaper for investors holding other currencies.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was relatively flat, having spent the previous day in a tight range as the U.S. financial markets were closed for the Independence Day holiday.

On the technical side, spot gold may retest a resistance at $1,435 per ounce, with a good chance of breaking above this level and rising into a range of $1,443-$1,456, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, silver edged 0.1% lower to $15.27 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.3% to $835.15.

Palladium was steady at $1,561.20 an ounce and was heading for its fifth straight weekly gain. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford and Subhranshu Sahu)