(Feb 6): Gold prices edged up on Monday, gaining for a third day, on technical buying and a weaker US dollar after mixed US jobs data late last week muted expectations for near-term interest rate hikes.
Spot gold had gained 0.3% to US$1,222.95 per ounce by 0555 GMT.
US gold futures rose 0.4% to US$1,225.45 per ounce.
US job growth surged more than expected in January as construction firms and retailers ramped up hiring, but wages barely rose, handing the administration under President Donald Trump both a head start and a challenge as it seeks to boost the economy.
The Dollar Index was down 0.1% at 99.736.
"Gold is pointing to push higher from all fronts on charts," said Brian Lan, managing director at gold dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore, adding that the metal may test US$1,230 per ounce.
Spot gold may rise towards resistance at US$1,249 per ounce, as it has managed to stand above resistance at US$1,219, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
Wall Street's top banks expect just two rate hikes from the Federal Reserve this year and see only a modest risk to the US central bank being pressed into a more aggressive pace of monetary policy tightening.
"It's unlikely there will be a rate hike in March as there is too much political unrest in the United States. At least in the first half of the year, gold should do quite well," Lan said.
Gold is highly sensitive to rising US rates, which increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion while boosting the US dollar, in which it is priced.
Investor interest in gold was underscored by US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data on Friday that showed speculators increased their net long position in COMEX gold contracts to the highest in eight weeks in the week to Jan 31.
Gold and silver would continue to move higher in February, largely on account of the continued weakness in the US dollar, coupled with geopolitical developments having to do with both Iran and Ukraine, INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said.
"The (US) standoff with Iran is the most problematic, since if tensions continued to escalate, it is quite possible that one side of the other could pull out of the nuclear accords, in which case we could see an immediate spike in gold."
A Revolutionary Guards commander said Iran would use its missiles if its security is under threat, as the elite force defied new US sanctions on its missile programme by holding a military exercise on Saturday.
Spot silver on Monday rose 0.4% to US$17.53 an ounce.
Platinum prices were up 0.2% at US$1,005.70, while palladium rose 1.6% to US$757.95.