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PRECIOUS-Gold slips; set for best week in three on smaller Fed rate-hike bets

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U.S. non-farm payrolls data due at 1330 GMT

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Dollar index down about 1% for week

(Adds comment and updates prices)

By Ashitha Shivaprasad

Dec 2 (Reuters) - Gold prices eased on Friday ahead of a key U.S. jobs report, but were set for their best week in three as the dollar weakened on prospects of slower U.S. interest rate hikes.

Spot gold fell 0.3% to $1,796.71 per ounce, as of 0544 GMT, after hitting its highest since Aug. 10 at $1,804.46 earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures were down 0.2% at $1,811.00.

Gold prices have risen about 2.3% this week in what would be their second straight weekly gain.

The dollar index held steady but was headed for a weekly loss of about 1%, weighed down by expectation that the peak in U.S. interest rates was on the horizon.

A weaker greenback makes dollar-priced gold less expensive for overseas buyers.

After Fed Chair Jerome Powell's comment on Wednesday, the dollar corrected heavily and this supported gold's appeal, said Hareesh V, head of commodity research at Geojit Financial Services in Kochi, India.

"The $1,805 level may act as an immediate resistance for gold, a break above which may trigger fresh rallies."

Earlier this week, Powell had said it was time to slow rate hikes. Rising rates have kept a hold on gold's traditional status as an inflation hedge this year, as they translate into higher opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding metal.

Investors now await the U.S. Labor Department's non-farm payrolls data due at 1330 GMT.

"A softer print on wage growth and NFP would be a case of all stars aligned for further dollar weakness and that should further benefit gold. However, an upside surprise in the report may halt gold's ascend, especially with prices trading near key resistance level," OCBC FX strategist Christopher Wong said.

Spot silver slipped 0.7% to $22.61, platinum fell 0.5% to $1,036.00 and palladium lost 0.7% to $1,927.69. (Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Subhranshu Sahu)

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