Gold prices hit a pause on Friday after scaling to historic highs in the previous session on expectations of lower U.S. interest rates this year, while traders await further cues from a key jobs report due later in the day.


* Spot gold was down 0.2% at $2,284.84 per ounce, as of 0052 GMT, after hitting a record high of $2,305.04 on Thursday. Bullion was on track for a third straight weekly gain, up 2.3% so far.

* U.S. gold futures edged 0.2% lower to $2,303.80 per ounce.

* Powell reiterated that the U.S. central bank has time to deliberate over its first rate cut, given the strength of the economy and recent high inflation readings.

* Lower interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding bullion.

* Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased more than expected last week as labor market conditions gradually ease.

* Investor focus will now shift to U.S. March non-farm payrolls data due at 1230 GMT which could shed more light on the timing of the Fed's first rate cut.

* Meanwhile, Canada recorded a bigger-than-expected trade surplus of C$1.39 billion ($1.03 billion) in February as a record level of unwrought gold helped exports outpace the rise in imports, data showed on Thursday.

* Perth Mint's gold product sales in March dropped to their lowest level in nearly five years, pressured by a fall in demand as customers responded to rising prices.

* Spot silver fell 1% at $26.69 per ounce, platinum edged 0.1% higher to $926.36 and palladium lost 0.7% to $1,013.67.

(Reporting by Sherin Elizabeth Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)