Gold was steady on Friday ahead of the release of U.S. payrolls data, while Tokyo futures shed the previous day's gains to track losses in New York.

In a move seen as bullish for the price of gold, Newmont Mining Corp. said on Thursday it had scrapped its entire 1.85 million-ounce gold hedge position.

While the announcement sent the shares of the Denver-based gold company, the world's second-biggest producer after Canada's Barrick Gold Co., up 2.3 percent in after-hours trading, it had little immediate impact on gold prices.

Traders said the market appeared to be digesting the news.

Spot gold stood at $649.50/$650.00 an ounce as of 0630 GMT, little changed from $649.30/$650.10 late in New York on Thursday, when it hit its lowest in a week at $645.70 on a rising dollar and better-than-expected U.S. services sector data.

Overall, the market lacked upward momentum, traders said.

The dollar's strength against the euro is also a factor to exert downward pressure on gold, Tatsuo Kageyama, an analyst at Kanetsu Asset Management Co. Ltd., said.

Gold often trades in an inverse correlation to the dollar as some investors use the metal as a dollar hedge.

The release of U.S. payrolls data on Friday, which could boost the dollar's value if figures are better than expected, was also holding back players from trading actively.

The most active gold futures contract for June 2008 delivery on Tokyo Commodity Exchange finished down 12 yen, or 0.5 percent, at 2,606 yen, just one yen below the day's high.

In the currency market, the dollar held gains against the euro on Friday after a surprisingly strong reading in U.S. service sector data soothed concerns the Federal Reserve might have to cut interest rates later this year.

The dollar stood at around 123.24 yen, from the previous day's late New York trade of 122.92 yen, and not far from its 4-1/2-year high of 124.14 yen hit in late June.

U.S. crude oil held steady at around $71.70 a barrel, aftering touching $72.35 a day ago, the peak since August, as fresh violence in Nigeria added to fears of a possible supply tightness in the United States, the world's top consumer.

Cash platinum traded at $1,283/$1,288 an ounce, down from $1,288/$1,292 in late New York.

Spot silver was mostly steady at $12.48/$12.51 an ounce.

Spot palladium inched down to $362/$366 an ounce, compared with $364/368.