Gold edged higher on Friday and was set for its sixth week of gains out of seven as Chinese buyers returned from a week-long holiday, while investors awaited the U.S. payrolls report for clues on economic growth.
U.S. hiring likely snapped back from a three-year low in January and kept the unemployment rate steady at 6.7 percent, according to a Reuters poll of economists, but some warned extreme cold weather could again have had an impact.
"Investors are in wait-and-see mode, with the usual speculation surrounding the U.S. payrolls number ... if it's a poor number, gold might get some strength from it, while if it's a surprise to the upside then gold logically would be sold off," Mitsubishi Corp analyst Jonathan Butler said.
"But even with a disappointing number, the trend of selling into the rally is likely to remain in place," he added. "That said we are now getting close to the $1,270 resistance level and if that is breached on the way up later today, then the next level is probably around $1,300."
Spot gold rose 0.3 percent to $1,261.00 an ounce by 1120 GMT. It has gained around 1.4 percent this week and around five percent since the beginning of the year.
U.S. gold futures for February delivery were up $4.20 to $1,261.60 an ounce.
Gold rose despite a steadier dollar and higher European equities.
Usually, gold holds an inverse correlation with the dollar, as a weaker dollar makes the metal cheaper, increasing demand and vice versa. Meanwhile, risk appetite detracts interest from gold, often regarded as a safe haven.
After a mixed bag of recent economic data, for many investors who have been expecting the United States to lead a global economic recovery this year, the U.S. nonfarm payrolls data, a key gauge of the labour market, is most important.
A positive or disappointing number would be crucial to reinforce or reduce convictions that the Federal Reserve will continue to pare its quantitative easing (QE) stimulus.
Markets in China, the world's biggest gold consumer, opened on Friday after a week-long Lunar New Year holiday, boosting volumes that had thinned during Asian hours in the past days.
Premiums for 99.99 percent purity gold, the most-active spot contract on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, climbed to nearly $11 an ounce over London prices on Friday.
They were about $4 last Thursday just before China before went on the holiday.
Trading volumes had reached 22.438 tonnes by 0713 GMT - the highest