SINGAPORE Gold held losses from a two-day decline on Tuesday on worries the Federal Reserve will hike U.S. interest rates earlier than market expectations and on outflows from bullion-backed exchange traded funds.
* Spot gold XAU= was little changed at $1,215.55 an ounce by 2345 GMT, after dropping 1.4 percent in the past two sessions.
* Gold had posted its biggest quarterly rise in nearly 30 years in the March quarter, rallying 16 percent as expectations faded that the Fed would move to normalise interest rates due to concerns over the global economy. The U.S. central bank raised rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade.
* The metal is highly exposed to rising rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets, while boosting the dollar.
* Gold's decline began after data on Friday showed non-farm payrolls rising by 215,000 last month, higher than expectations of 205,000, underscoring the strength in the U.S. economy.
* Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren, a usually dovish U.S. central banker, said on Monday it was "surprising" that futures markets currently imply only one or no interest-rate hikes this year, a prediction he said could prove "too pessimistic."
* Gold failed to get a lift from a softer dollar. [USD/]
* It was undermined by persistent outflows from SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the top gold-backed exchange-traded fund.
* Assets of the fund fell 0.29 percent to 815.72 tonnes on Monday. The fund last week experienced its first net weekly outflow this year, after climbing to its highest in over two years in March. [GOL/ETF]
* Physical markets did not offer much support. India's gold imports in February fell 34 percent compared with the same period last year, news agency NewsRise Financial reported on Monday, citing a government official, as high prices and hopes for a cut in import taxes kept buyers away.
* South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) said on Monday it plans to launch an indefinite strike on Wednesday at Sibanye Gold (SGLJ.J) to demand higher wages.
(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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