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GLD

PRECIOUS-Gold eases as dollar firms after U.S. job market data

* U.S. weekly jobless claims lowest since 1969

* Platinum hits highest since mid-June

* Palladium slides 3 percentSPDR gold holdings hit lowest since Dec. 17 (Updates prices, adds comments and details)

April 4 (Reuters) - Gold eased on Thursday, touching a nearten-week low earlier in the session and pressured by a firmdollar on the back of gold-positive U.S. jobs data, whileinvestors awaited clarity on the U.S.-China trade talks.

Spot gold XAU= was down 0.2 percent at $1,287.56 an ounceby 11:57 a.m. EDT (1557 GMT), having earlier touched its lowestsince Jan. 25 at $1,280.59. U.S. gold futures GCv1 fell 0.3percent to $1,292.10.

"Even though we had a favorable backdrop being created by amore dovish U.S. Federal Reserve, gold is following the dollar,real yields and equities very closely at the moment and thestrength in the dollar is weighing on gold in the near term,"said Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard CharteredBank.

Lower U.S. interest rates tend to pressure the greenback,making dollar-denominated gold less expensive for holders ofother currencies.

"But still, the broader backdrop is supportive for gold andwe expect the dollar to weaken more in the second half of theyear," Cooper added.

The dollar was up 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY , making gold more expensive for holders of othercurrencies. USD/

The number of Americans filing applications for unemploymentbenefits dropped to a more than 49-year low last week, pointingto sustained labor market strength despite slowing economicgrowth.

Analysts now await the closely-watched U.S. non-farmpayrolls data on Friday for further clues on the strength of theAmerican economy.

Investors are also watching developments in the U.S.-Chinatrade conflict, with U.S. President Donald Trump expected toannounce a date for a summit with China's President Xi Jinping.

"There is a lot of optimism around the idea that we will seea peaceful resolution and some agreement really soon," saidMichael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Holdings in the world's largest gold-backed exchange-tradedfund, SPDR Gold TrustGLD , fell for a third straight sessionon Wednesday. Holdings were at their lowest since Dec. 17 at24.57 million ounces. GOL/ETF

Among other precious metals, spot platinum XPT= was lastup 2.6 percent at $897.64 an ounce, having earlier hit itshighest since mid-June at $898.12 an ounce.

The auto-catalyst metal jumped 3.4 percent in the previoussession, the most in more than two years.

Platinum is gaining because of a combination of momentumafter breaking the recent highs as well as its relative valueagainst gold and palladium, said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.

Palladium XPD= was down 2.8 percent at $1,365.20 andsilver XAG= fell 0.4 percent to $15.08. (Reporting by Sumita Layek and Arijit Bose in Bengaluru;editing by G Crosse) ((Sumita.Layek@thomsonreuters.com; +1-651-848-5832, outsideN.America, +91-80-6749-1638; Reuters Messaging:Sumita.Layek.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


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