Gold retreated on Thursday, easing from earlier highs near $1,200 an ounce, as the dollar pared losses against the euro after Wall Street equities opened lower in jittery trade ahead of Friday's U.S. payrolls data.

Spot gold was bid at $1,193.85 an ounce at 1427 GMT (10:27 a.m. EDT) against $1,194.60 late in New York on Wednesday, having earlier risen as high as $1,199.55. December COMEX futures were last at $1,196.50 an ounce, showing a 60-cent gain on the day.

While the usual inverse relationship between gold and the dollar loosened earlier this year as extreme risk aversion benefited both assets, it has since shown signs of becoming reestablished.

Gold is trying to trade inversely with the dollar, as it has in the past, said Jeff Pritchard, an analyst at Altavest Worldwide Trading.

Gold has been trading like a currency, with the dollar, he said. That might be reversing if there is some sort of clarity within the market. If we can avoid panic, I think things will start going back to normal in that relationship.

Gold benefited in earlier trade from gains in the euro against the dollar, after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said incoming third-quarter economic data showed stronger-than-expected euro zone growth.

However, it struggled to maintain those gains as U.S. stock markets opened in the red, with traders remaining nervous ahead of key U.S. non-farm payrolls data due on Friday. Gold surrendered gains in its wake. .N .EU

Signs of fresh weakness in the U.S. economy reflected in the payrolls numbers could ultimately benefit gold, however, analysts said. Any insecurity in the markets definitely brings people to (gold), said Pritchard.


Economists polled by Reuters estimated that U.S. nonfarm payrolls shed 65,000 jobs in July as layoffs of federal census workers continued.

We've said for months that $1,250 might be the top. We haven't really seen anything to make us depart from that in the last month or so, said Citi analyst David Thurtell.

We can get back up there if, say, worries emerge about the U.S. fiscal situation.

There has been intense speculation in the fixed income markets that the Federal Reserve will embark on a fresh bond-buying programme to ensure interest rates remain at their current low levels for some time, an environment that would be beneficial to gold, which does not offer any yield.

It's still a very tricky market to call on the near term. I suppose the positive sign for gold now is that it has held up some pretty heavy selling pressure toward $1,150, said Mark Pervan, senior commodities analyst at ANZ in Melbourne.

Holdings of the world's largest gold exchange-traded fund, the SPDR Gold Trust, fell for a seventh day to 1,281.8 tonnes. Holdings hit a record 1,320.436 tonnes on June 29.

Silver was up about 0.7 percent on the day to $18.37 against $18.25 in New York on Wednesday. It shrugged off a decline in holdings of the largest silver ETF, the iShares Silver Trust.

Platinum was bid at $1,567.50 an ounce versus $1,577, while palladium was at $490.50 versus $494.00. Workers at South Africa's Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J) were voting on possible strike action at the world's second-largest platinum producer.

(Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan in Singapore; Editing by Alison Birrane and Sue Thomas)