Gold eases on strong US data, but holds near $2,000 pivot

Gold prices fell on Monday after strong U.S. jobs numbers rekindled bets for another interest rate hike and buoyed the dollar, but persistent economic risks kept safe-haven bullion near the $2,000 level.

Spot gold fell 0.3% to $2,001.49 per ounce by 1143 GMT, while U.S. gold futures slipped 0.5% to $2,016.50.

U.S. Labor Department data on Friday showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 236,000 jobs last month.

Markets now see the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates next month, with around 69% expecting a 25 bps hike, helping the dollar to edge higher. [USD/][US/]

Gold's recent decline may also be a technical pullback from near overbought conditions, said Han Tan, chief market analyst at Exinity.

But signs that U.S. disinflation is gathering pace, allowing the Fed to pause its rate hikes sooner rather than later, may restore gold to recent highs, Tan added.

Gold is traditionally considered a hedge against inflation, but higher interest rates increase the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding asset.

Gold breached the $2,000 level last week as some weak U.S. data exacerbated slowdown risks following a surge in oil prices. [O/R]

"The bull trend, established since November 2022, is still intact," metals firm MKS PAMP said in a note.

However, a "stickier" core U.S. CPI would solidify a 25 bps hike and ensure, unless there's a new catalyst, gold prices might not hit all-time highs this month.

The U.S. CPI print is due at 1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT) on Wednesday.

Higher inflows into gold-back exchanged traded funds, money managers raising net-long positions to their highest in over a year, and central banks adding to gold reserves in recent months all remain bullish catalysts for gold, Exinity's Tan said. [GOL/ETF]

Silver rose 0.1% to $25.02 per ounce, platinum was up 0.6% at $1,013.62, while palladium was up 0.1% at $1,468.19.

Australian, Hong Kong and European markets were closed on Monday for the Easter holiday.