Gold edged higher for a second session on Thursday as worries over Europe and Egypt prompted safe-haven buying, but the mood remained cautious ahead of U.S. jobs data that could determine the outlook for the Federal Reserve's stimulus measures.
Bullion has gained nearly 2 percent so far this week after posting its biggest quarterly loss on record, helped as well by short covering and bargain hunting.
The last two days it has been boosted by political turmoil in Portugal, where talks over the government's future threatened to reignite the euro-zone crisis, and by the ousting of Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi by the army.
"It is typical safe-haven buying," said a Hong Kong-based trader. "But we don't know if the upside will continue. The nonfarm report tomorrow is important for gold."
U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due on Friday could determine when the Federal Reserve would begin tapering its $85 billion monthly bond buying stimulus.
Investors were also on the sidelines due to the U.S. Independence Day holiday on Thursday, the trader said.
Spot gold rose 0.3 percent to $1,254.59 an ounce by 0352 GMT, after gaining almost 1 percent on Wednesday. Comex gold rose $3 to $1,254.90.
Gold has fallen sharply since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month the U.S. economy was recovering strongly enough for the central bank to begin tapering its stimulus in the next few months, and possibly end the programme in mid-2014.
The metal fell to nearly a three-year low of $1,180.71 last week and is down 25 percent for the year.
Despite the lower prices, physical demand is not as strong as expected, dealers have said.
Gold demand in India, the world's biggest buyer of the metal, remained lukewarm on Wednesday as a drop in the rupee lifted local prices by more than one percent amid restrictions by the central bank on gold imports.
In China, consumers are put off by fears of a cash crunch and are waiting for another drop in gold prices.
"Our coin dealers in Australia have seen a good response to this recent drop. But it is not the same response as we got in April," said Bron Suchecki, manager of analysis and strategy at the Perth Mint.
The mint's depository business was not seeing significant liquidations but the inflows have dropped off, he said.
Precious metals prices 0352 GMT
Metal Last Change Pct chg YTD pct chg Volume
Spot Gold 1254.59 3.40 +0.27 -25.08
Spot Silver 19.67 -0.02 -0.10 -35.04
Spot Platinum 1356.24 19.24 +1.44 -11.65
Spot Palladium 684.97 2.47 +0.36 -1.02
COMEX GOLD AUG3 1254.90 3.00 +0.24 -25.12 6087
COMEX SILVER SEP3 19.68 -0.02 -0.13 -35.08
COMEX gold and silver contracts show the most active months