Gold Prices Rise to Fresh 7-Week High, Silver Settles to New 31-Year Peak


U.S. precious metals were mixed for a second straight day on Wednesday. Gold and silver prices advanced to fresh highs while platinum and palladium gave away previous gains to fall into the red for the year.

Fine Gold BarsInvestors were risk adverse as mounting turmoil in Libya and the Middle East were again attributed for safe-haven demand in gold and silver.

April gold prices rose $12.90, or 0.9 percent, to $1,414.00 an ounce on the Comex in New York. Gold closed at its best price since January 3. It traded as low as $1,396.00 an ounce and as high as $1,417.30 an ounce. Gains this week have brought the yellow metal within a 0.5 percent of the even level for the year.

"You tell me when things are going to stabilize in the Middle East and I will tell you when risk aversion is off," Bart Melek, head of commodities strategy at TD Securities in Toronto, was quoted on MarketWatch. "People are buying gold as a way to hedge against geopolitical risk."

Silver has been soaring for four straight days, jumping $2.67, or 8.7 percent since Thursday. Silver prices for March delivery rallied 43.6 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $33.298 an ounce — its best closing price since the Hunt Brothers attempted to corner the silver market in 1980. Silver on Wednesday ranged between $32.680 and $33.765. It is now the top performer in precious metals with its 7.6 percent increase in 2011.

"Look for daily higher volatility in the silver market. Prices are in a steep four-week-old uptrend on the daily bar chart," noted Jim Wyckoff of Kitco News. "The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid trend-line support at $32.00. Bulls’ next upside price breakout objective is producing a close above solid technical resistance at $35.00 an ounce."

Industrial metals were clobbered for a second consecutive day, cutting away all prior gains.

Platinum prices for April delivery declined $9.60, or 0.5 percent, to $1,776.70 an ounce. It traded between $1,771.10 and $1,812.00. The metal is now down 0.1 percent in 2011.

Palladium prices for March delivery plummeted $31.15, or 3.9 percent, to $774.55 an ounce. Prices ranged from $765.10 to $816.50. Palladium has declined $83.15 since Friday, resulting in a 3.6 percent loss on the year.

PM London precious metals prices were split just like they were in New York. The PM gold fixing was $1,409.25 an ounce, marking an increase of $8.25 over the previous PM fix. The London silver fixing was $33.290 an ounce for a gain of 40 cents. Platinum and palladium both declined $27. The platinum fixing came in at $1,794 an ounce while palladium was fixed at $809.00 an ounce.

United States Mint American Silver Eagle bullion coins advanced modestly Wednesday. The .999 fine silver coins gained 39,000 versus the 777,000 pick-up reported on Tuesday. One-ounce and one-half ounce American Gold Eagle bullion coins rose as well. The larger 22-karat gold coin added 5,000 while the smaller gold piece increased by 4,000. The latest United States Mint bullion sales figures follow.

U.S. Mint 2011 Bullion Coin Sales
February 2011 Totals
American Eagle Gold Coin (1 oz) 63,500 194,000
American Eagle Gold Coin (1/2 oz) 12,000 13,000
American Eagle Gold Coin (1/4 oz) 16,000 18,000
American Eagle Gold Coin (1/10 oz) 100,000 120,000
American Eagle Silver (1 oz) 2,638,500 9,060,500


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