Gold prices eased on Friday, heading for a third consecutive weekly loss, as U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's comments that pandemic-era asset purchases could end sooner than previously anticipated dented bullion's appeal.
Spot gold was down 0.2% at $1,766.03 per ounce by 0922 GMT, after hitting its lowest in nearly a month on Thursday.
U.S. gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,767.10.
"An incredibly hawkish tone of the Fed chair, coupled with the prevailing U.S. dollar strength are two things combining to take the shine off the gold market," said independent analyst Ross Norman.
And if non-farm payrolls figures are strong, it could add to the dollar strength and gold could slide further towards $1,750 and below, Norman said, adding that Fed's narrative of inflation and rate hikes are keeping investors away from buying the metal.
A stronger dollar dents gold's appeal for those holding other currencies.
Gold has declined 1.4% so far in the week as a number of Fed officials suggested the central bank might accelerate stimulus tapering, with Powell saying that decision could be reached in its upcoming policy meeting.
Gold is often viewed as an inflation hedge, but reduced central bank stimulus and interest rate hikes tend to push government bond yields up, translating into a higher opportunity cost for holding non-interest yielding bullion.
"(And) while rising bets for quicker monetary policy tightening and dollar strength are downside risks, inflation is likely to stay elevated well into 2022 and that should support gold in the medium term," said Sugandha Sachdeva, vice president of commodity and currency research at Religare Broking.
Meanwhile, the Omicron coronavirus variant has sparked fears over the pace of the economic recovery, weighing on risk sentiment globally.
Spot silver fell 0.4% to $22.28 per ounce.
Platinum rose 0.1% to $938.23 and palladium gained 0.8% to $1,796.71.
(Reporting by Nakul Iyer and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V) ((Arundhati.Sarkar@thomsonreuters.com; twitter.com/Arundhati_05; +1 646 223 8780 Ext: 2776))