PRECIOUS-Gold flat on caution ahead of U.S. payroll data for Fed’s taper cues


* Dollar steadies near one-year high

* Strong jobs data could send gold towards $1,725/oz-analyst (Recasts, adds comment, updates prices)

Oct 7 (Reuters) – Gold was flat on Thursday, as investors waited for U.S. payrolls data, improvement in which would let the Federal Reserve start tapering its stimulus, a move that one analyst felt could push bullion prices as low as $1,725.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,763.00 per ounce by 0651 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were up 0.1% at $1,764.10 per ounce.

The U.S. dollar holding close to a one-year high, buoyed by inflation concerns and expectations that the Fed would have to act sooner to normalise policy, also limited any uptick in gold.

A stronger dollar makes gold less appealing for those holding other currencies.

“Central banks are in a precarious situation as they watch inflation continue to pick up… Historically, it is good for gold, but it doesn’t work that way in an environment where central banks are starting to shift into rate hike mode,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

“If we get a strong employment number and U.S. yields move towards 1.6%, gold could trade down to $1,725.”

U.S. nonfarm payrolls data on Friday is expected to show an improvement in the labour market, which is likely to prompt the central bank to begin withdrawing pandemic-era support for the economy before year-end.

Expectations that the Fed would soon start tapering its massive bond purchases were bolstered by a strong private payrolls report for September released on Wednesday.

Reduced stimulus and higher interest rates lift bond yields, translating into increased opportunity costs of holding non-interest yielding bullion.

“We’ll need to see gold prices break above major resistance levels before we have a better idea if gold is about to end its short-term bearish trend,” said Vincent Tie, sales manager at Singapore dealer Silver Bullion.

Elsewhere, spot silver rose 0.6% to $22.73 per ounce, platinum was flat at $984.69, and palladium gained 0.9% to $1,906.18. (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Rashmi Aich)