[SINGAPORE] Gold was hovering near its lowest in five weeks on Friday and was on track for a third straight weekly slide, as robust US economic data bolstered expectations of an interest rate hike this year.
Traders were awaiting the critical US nonfarm payrolls report due later in the day for more clues on the economy and how it would impact the Federal Reserve's interest rate policy.
Spot gold ticked up slightly to US$1,177.80 an ounce by 0326 GMT, but was not too far from a five-week low of US$1,172.55 hit in the previous session.
For the week, the metal is down about 1 per cent.
"Bullion's near-term price direction may be dictated by the result of the nonfarm release as a lower-than-expected number would be viewed as positive for gold," said HSBC analyst James Steel.
The nonfarm payrolls data is seen as a key barometer of the world's largest economy. Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have expanded to 225,000 in May from 223,000 in April.
Strong data would keep the Fed on track to raise interest rates later this year, a move that could diminish demand for non-interest-paying bullion.
Better-than-expected data this week has already taken a toll on bullion, with cautious investor positioning ahead of the nonfarm payrolls report further dragging on prices.
Bullion failed to get any support from a weaker dollar.
News that Greece delayed a key debt payment to the International Monetary Fund due on Friday also did not trigger any significant safe-haven bids.
The delay came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said talks on a cash-for-reforms deal were still far from reaching an agreement. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras demanded changes to tough terms from international creditors for aid to stave off default.
Chartists predicted further declines for gold.
The failure to break above US$1,200 has brought in fresh selling, and a break below US$1,171 is likely to see a decline to a March low of US$1,143, said ScotiaMocatta analysts.
Trading in physical markets was bleak despite the lower prices. A tight price range and expectations of more declines, in a seasonally quiet period for bullion, kept consumers away from gold jewellery, bars and coins.
Premiums in major trading centres across Asia, the top consuming region, have barely moved in the past few weeks.