Gold gains as smaller U.S. rate-hike prospects pressure dollar

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By Arundhati Sarkar

(Reuters) - Gold prices extended gains for a third straight session on Thursday, as the dollar slipped after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. central bank might scale back the pace of its interest rate hikes as soon as December.

Spot gold gained 8.3% in November, ending its seven-month losing streak, as investors cheered Powell's comments at the Brookings Institution.

Lower rates tend to boost the appeal of non-yielding gold.

But Powell also cautioned that the fight against inflation was far from over.

Spot gold was up 0.6% at $1,778.94 per ounce, as of 1018 GMT. U.S. gold futures rose 1.7% to $1,778.70.

Rival safe-haven dollar fell 0.5% on the day, making gold less expensive for overseas buyers. [USD/]

"The band between $1,788 and $1,808 is a significant area of resistance and a break above would signal a further recovery in gold prices," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, adding gold could see some profit-taking as it approaches that level.

Market participants now see a 91% chance of a 50-basis-point hike at the central bank's upcoming December meeting.

But Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke said the rally post Powell's was "outsized," considering that the markets had already moved up on expectations of a slowdown of rate hikes earlier this month.

"We still see short-covering in the futures market as the dominant driver of these moves while investors are still staying on the sidelines," Menke added.

Investors' attention now turns to the U.S. Labor Department's non-farm payrolls (NFP) data due on Friday, after U.S. private payrolls number signalled weakness in the labour market.

If the NFP numbers confirm the weakness seen in yesterday's data, then the "market would most certainly have the excuse that it has waited to move higher," Hansen added.

Spot silver fell 0.6% to $22.07 per ounce, while platinum rose 0.2% to $1,034.75.

Palladium added 0.5% to $1,889.63.

(Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)


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