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Gold slips after US data signals resilient economy

Production of gold at Novosibirsk precious metals plant

By Anushree Ashish Mukherjee

(Reuters) - Gold prices fell from a near two-week high on Thursday after jobless claims data indicated a strong economy, while investors awaited further economic data for guidance on the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate stance.

Spot gold lost 0.1% to $2,022.74 an ounce by 01:42 p.m. ET (1842 GMT), after hitting its highest since Feb. 9 of $2034.69 earlier in the session.

U.S. gold futures settled 0.2% lower to $2030.7.

U.S. Treasury yields gained, making bullion more expensive for other currency holders.[US/]

"We see gold stay at these levels and there is more downside risks to gold in the short term than upside" if we get more positive data on the U.S. economy and if inflation doesn't continue to ease, said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at EverBank.

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Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting that job growth likely remained solid in February.

Minutes of the Fed's latest policy meeting released on Wednesday showed that a majority of the central bank's policymakers are concerned about the risks of cutting interest rates too soon.

Lower interest rates boost the appeal of holding non-yielding gold, with markets pricing in about a 66% chance of a June rate cut, as per the CME Fed Watch Tool.

Geopolitical risks seem to support the safe-haven aspect of gold and technical charts show that gold has established a "pretty hard floor" at around $2000 level, Gaffney added.

The conflict in the Middle East has intensified with Israel's bombardment of Rafah in Gaza's south.

Investors are currently dramatically under positioned for a Fed cutting cycle and "we still expect gold prices to rally quite notably into the second quarter of this year", said Daniel Ghali, commodity strategist at TD Securities.

In other precious metals, spot platinum was up 1.9% at $899.60 an ounce, palladium rose 2% to $968.40 and silver lost 0.3% to $22.80.

(Reporting by Anushree Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Vijay Kishore and Shailesh Kuber)