Gold edged lower on Friday, but was not far off a 13-month peak reached in the prior session when a weaker dollar gave bullion its best day in two weeks.
Investors are now eyeing the crucial U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due out later in the day, where a strong reading for February could stall further gains in the precious metal.
* Spot gold was down 0.3 percent at $1,259.50 an ounce by 0032 GMT, after rallying nearly 2 percent on Thursday when it hit $1,267.06, its strongest since Feb. 6, 2015. The metal has gained 3 percent for the week and almost 20 percent this year to be among the top commodity performers.
* U.S. gold for April delivery rose 0.2 percent to $1,260.50 an ounce.
* U.S. nonfarm payrolls, which include both public and private-sector employment, are estimated to have risen by 190,000 last month after increasing by 151,000 in January, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
* On Thursday, data showed the U.S. economy’s service sector expanded in February at a slightly slower pace than the previous month and employment declined for the first time in two years.
* The decline in U.S. service sector employment weighed on the dollar, making dollar-denominated assets such as gold cheaper for buyers using other currencies.
* Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan called on the U.S. central bank to be patient when it comes to raising interest rates, citing the effect of tighter financial conditions on U.S. economic growth.