Gold prices held steady on Friday as investors stood on the sidelines ahead of a key U.S. payrolls report due later in the day, after recent data sent mixed signals about the status of the world's largest economy.

Caution is likely to prevail before the key U.S. August employment report is released at 1230 GMT. 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 Sept. 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.