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PRECIOUS-Gold steady ahead of US jobs data, on track for weekly gain

SINGAPORE, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Gold traded little changed on Friday, remaining on track to snap three weeks of losses, with investors waiting for a key U.S. employment report later in the day for further clues on the health of the world's top economy.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold was little changed at $1,715.59 an ounce by 0026 GMT, on course for a slight weekly rise of 0.3 percent.

* U.S. gold was also barely moved at $1,716.40.

* All eyes are on the U.S. nonfarm payrolls data, which is expected to show a pickup in job growth, although the unemployment rate may tick up from a near four-year low.

* It follows figures that showed U.S. companies added jobs in October at the fastest pace in eight months, a sign of modest healing in the labour market just days before a presidential election that could hinge on the economy.

* Other data showed a drop in new claims for jobless benefits, a sharp improvement in consumer confidence, while there were mixed signals regarding the health of U.S. manufacturing.

* South Africa's platinum industry is in ``severe financial distress'' and high wage settlements to get wildcat strikers back to work will lead to job cuts, Anglo American Platinum said.

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MARKET NEWS

* The S&P 500 scored its best day in seven weeks on Thursday as bullish consumer confidence and private-sector jobs data gave investors reason to cheer following superstorm Sandy's devastating sweep through the U.S. Northeast.

* The safe-haven yen stayed under pressure on Friday, while commodity currencies held solid gains as investors bet on an upbeat U.S. payrolls report after private employers added jobs at the fastest pace in eight months.

DATA/EVENTS

0843 Italy Markit/ADACI Mfg PMI Oct 0853 Germany Markit/BME Mfg PMI Oct

0858 Euro zone Markit Mfg PMI Oct

1230 U.S. Non-farm payrolls Oct 1400 U.S. Durable goods orders Sep 1930 U.S. CFTC commitment of traders data

PRICES

Precious metals prices 0026 GMT

Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume Spot Gold 1715.49 1.40 +0.08 9.70 Spot Silver 32.30 0.07 +0.22 16.65 Spot Platinum 1564.24 -0.26 -0.02 12.29 Spot Palladium 606.00 -5.00 -0.82 -7.13 COMEX GOLD DEC2 1716.40 0.90 +0.05 9.55 1328 COMEX SILVER DEC2 32.32 0.07 +0.22 15.78 225 Euro/Dollar 1.2931 Dollar/Yen 80.23

COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months

(Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Joseph Radford)