Gold eases on firmer dollar, bets for faster Fed tightening

(Updates prices)

* Faster Fed tapering fears could push gold to $1,720/oz - analyst

* U.S. employment growth slowed in November

By Nakul Iyer

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Gold prices edged lower on Monday, pressured by a stronger dollar and rising expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve could reduce its asset purchases at a faster pace amid signs of a tighter labour market.

Spot gold XAU= fell 0.2% to $1,780.63 per ounce by 0820 GMT, while U.S. gold futures GCv1 dropped 0.1% to $1,782.70.

The dollar index =USD edged 0.1% higher, raising bullion's cost to buyers holding other currencies.

Bullion rose 1% on Friday after data showed U.S. employment growth slowed considerably in November.

But the data did little to alter expectations of the Fed tapering its stimulus measures at a faster pace, as policymakers likely respond to signs of a tightening labour market with the unemployment rate plunging.

"A faster taper announcement looks like a certainty if data on the Omicron variant this week and next confirms it is milder in severity, so gold could come under sustained pressure and potentially trade as low as $1,720 next week," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda.

Reduced stimulus and interest rate hikes tend to push government bond yields up, raising the non-interest bearing metal's opportunity cost.

Limiting gold's decline, U.S. 10-year Treasury yields were not far from Friday's more than two-month low and 30-year yields were close to their lowest since January. Weaker yields decrease gold's opportunity cost.

"Gold has shifted lately to tracking real yields more closely than the dollar. While, this should provide greater upside risk to gold over the medium term, conviction is low in the near term," Standard Chartered analyst Suki Cooper said in a note.

Physical demand in China and India should start to wane in December, weighing on gold, Cooper added.

Investors now eye U.S. consumer price data on Friday.

Spot silver XAG= fell 0.8% to $22.33 an ounce. Platinum XPT= rose 0.2% to $934.38, while palladium XPD= declined 1.1% to $1,789.54.
Reporting by Nakul Iyer and Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Rashmi Aich and Uttaresh.V

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