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Gold inches lower as US dollar gains on strong US economic data

[BENGALURU] Gold fell on Thursday as the US dollar gained on positive US economic data, but the yellow metal held above a key US$1,300-an-ounce level as safe haven demand amid tensions over North Korea capped the losses.

Spot gold was down 0.4 per cent at US$1,302.84 per ounce as of 0331 GMT but was on track for a monthly gain of more than 2 per cent.

US gold futures for December delivery eased 0.5 per cent to US$1,307.80.

"Gold will be somewhat at the mercy of random month-end US dollar flows today, with the technical picture still constructive as long as the US$1,284.00 support holds," said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda.

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Investors rediscovered a taste for the US dollar and Asian shares rose as upbeat US economic news whetted appetite for riskier assets globally, even as tensions over North Korea simmered in the background.

The Commerce Department said its second estimate of US gross domestic product showed that it increased at a 3.0 per cent annual rate in the second quarter, its quickest pace in more than two years.

US private-sector employers hired 237,000 workers in August for the biggest monthly increase in five months, beating economists' expectations, a report by payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.

The ADP National Employment Report figures come ahead of the US Labor Department's more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Economists polled by Reuters estimate US private payroll employment to have grown by 179,000 jobs in August, down from 205,000 the month before.

Meanwhile, the United States called on Wednesday for "concerted action" by the international community to pressure North Korea into abandoning its banned nuclear and missile programmes and said it was working on new sanctions.

"The stronger dollar is an obvious factor (weighing on gold prices right now) but the recent price movement really has been on the back of the North Korean missile launch," said Cameron Alexander, an analyst with Thomson Reuters-owned metals consultancy GFMS.

"Given that the rhetoric coming from Japan and the US to date has been tempered, it is likely to settle down and prices will drift lower once more." Spot gold may test a support at US$1,295.97 per ounce, a break below which could cause a loss to the next support at US$1,287, said Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Among other precious metals, silver slid 0.6 per cent to US$17.28 per ounce.

Platinum edged 0.1 per cent lower to US$985.30 per ounce.

Palladium ticked up 0.2 per cent to US$928.78 per ounce.