Gold prices held steady Friday as investors stood on the sidelines ahead of a key U.S. payrolls report due later in the day.

Caution is likely to prevail before the key U.S. August employment report is released at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have increased 75,000, slowing from July's 117,000 rise, according to a Reuters survey.

A big surprise in the jobs data could move gold prices up or down. Short of a huge discrepancy with forecasts, however, many players will continue to try to ride the middle ground.

Gold seems to have a trading band of $1,810 and $1,840, and is unlikely to break the range ahead of the payrolls data, said David Thurtell, a Citigroup analyst.

Spot gold edged up 0.3 percent to $1,829.21 an ounce by 0634 GMT, little changed from a week earlier.

U.S. gold inched up 0.2 percent to $1,832.30, headed for a weekly gain of 1.9 percent.

Investors will keep an eye on inflation figures from China next week to gauge the progress of Beijing's battle against rapidly rising prices, while a two-day policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve starting September 20 will also be in the spotlight.

Financial market participants are eager to learn if the Fed plans to launch more stimulus plan to spur the ailing economy.

Latest data showed unexpected growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector in August and fewer jobless claims last week, despite a slump in confidence that threatened to push the economy back into recession.

Uncertainties around global growth have sent anxious investors to the safety of gold. Bullion prices surged about $400 in July and August in a record-setting rally.

Given the current economic circumstances, I don't think anything is going to change any time soon, said Gavin Wendt, senior resources analyst at Minelife, an Australia-based research firm.

Gold is the place to be as far as investors are concerned. Prices are going higher -- there's no doubt about that. It's not only about making money in this environment, but also about wealth preservation.

Spot silver gained 0.4 percent to $41.60, headed for a 0.2 percent rise from a week earlier.

Bolivia, the world's sixth-largest silver producing country by output in 2010, plans to raise mining royalties to take advantage of high prices and bolster the state's role in the industry.

Precious metals prices 0634 GMT

Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume

Spot Gold 1829.21 4.66 +0.26 28.87

Spot Silver 41.60 0.16 +0.39 34.80

Spot Platinum 1842.49 -1.36 -0.07 4.24

Spot Palladium 779.99 0.64 +0.08 -2.44

TOCOM Gold 4527.00 29.00 +0.64 21.40 52087

TOCOM Platinum 4594.00 -32.00 -0.69 -2.17 9819

TOCOM Silver 102.60 0.80 +0.79 26.67 474

TOCOM Palladium 1947.00 -5.00 -0.26 -7.15 943

COMEX GOLD DEC1 1832.30 3.20 +0.17 28.91 8659

COMEX SILVER DEC1 41.68 0.14 +0.34 34.70 1368

Euro/Dollar 1.4237

Dollar/Yen 76.81

TOCOM prices in yen per gram. Spot prices in $ per ounce.

COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months

(Reporting By Rujun Shen; Editing by Himani Sarkar)