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Gold prices held steady on Thursday, hovering close to a near seven-month high scaled in the previous session, while market participants prepared for U.S. jobs data that could influence the Federal Reserve‘s policy trajectory.

* Spot gold held its ground at $1,854.89 per ounce, as of 0042 GMT. Prices rose as much as 1.4% to their highest level since June 13 touched in the prior session.

* U.S. gold futures edged 0.1% higher at $1,860.50.

* The ADP National Employment Report is due at 1315 GMT. This will be followed by the U.S. Labor Department’s closely watched nonfarm payrolls (NFP) data on Friday.

* All officials at the Fed’s Dec. 13-14 policy meeting agreed the U.S. central bank should slow the pace of its aggressive interest rate hikes, the minutes showed on Wednesday.

* Bullion is seen as an inflation hedge, but higher interest rates tend to weigh on non-yielding gold.

* Euro zone business activity contracted less than initially thought at the end of last year, according to a survey that suggested the bloc’s recession may not be as deep as expected.
* SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.09% to 916.77 tonnes on Wednesday.

* Spot silver rose 0.3% to $23.81, while platinum lost 0.3% to $1,075.40 and palladium fell 0.3% to $1,783.60.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 0145 China Caixin Services PMI Dec 0900 Germany Overall Comprehensive Risk Q1 0900 France Overall Comprehensive Risk Q1 0900 UK Overall Comprehensive Risk Q1 0930 UK Composite PMI Final Dec 0930 UK Reserve Assets Total Dec 1330 US International Trade Nov 1330 US Initial Jobless Clm Weekly 1445 US S&P Global Comp, Svcs Final PMI Dec



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