Bengaluru: Gold on Friday slipped from the one-month high it touched in the previous session, with traders waiting for US jobs data later in the day for clues on the pace of possible US interest rate hikes this year.

Spot gold eased 0.2% to $1,178.41 per ounce by 8.25am. The metal on Thursday hit its highest since 5 December at $1,184.90. US gold futures were also down 0.2%, at $1,179 per ounce.

“We can see a bit of profit-taking ahead of the non-farm payroll data," said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.

A firm dollar will put pressure on gold prices ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration, he said. US services sector activity held at a one-year high in December as new orders surged, while the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell near a 43-year-low last week, suggesting the economy ended 2016 with strong momentum.

Investors are focused on Friday’s US nonfarm payrolls report, with economists expecting job gains of 178,000 in December.

US Fed has indicated that it would press ahead with further interest rate hikes this year after its second rate increase in a decade last month. Positive data usually puts pressure on gold prices, because investors raise bets on a US interest rate hike that would increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

Analysts and traders say that the focus of the gold markets will move towards Trump’s inauguration and some concerns exist about his potential policies.

Trump has promised tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation, and such changes could boost inflation and might set the stage for a confrontation between a president seeking to boost economic growth and the US Federal Reserve.

Spot gold failed to break a resistance at $1,182 per ounce and it may either hover below this level or retrace to a support at $1,159, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.03% to 813.59 tonnes on Thursday from Wednesday. They have fallen over 14% since the US presidential election in November.

Among other precious metals, spot silver rose 0.2% to $16.60. It hit a high of $16.71, best since 15 December, in the prior session. Platinum was down 0.5% at $963.20, below near 8-week high of $975.80 hit in the prior session.

Palladium was down nearly 1% at $731.97, after hitting a 4-week high of $747.80 on Thursday. Palladium has gained nearly 8% this week, its best since the week-ending 1 July. Reuters