Gold Extends Gains, Silver Dips Modestly


U.S. gold prices extended their gains Thursday, capping another fresh seven-week high on the heels of rising turmoil in Libya. But silver was quiet and dipped below a 31-year high reached on Wednesday.

Fine Gold BarsApril gold prices edged up $1.80, or 0.1 percent, to $1,415.80 an ounce on the Comex in New York. Gold settled at its best price since January 3. It traded as low as $1,408.30 an ounce and as high as $1,418.80 an ounce.

"Gold is poised to challenge December’s all-time high," James Moore, an analyst at in London, said in a report, according to Bloomberg. "The mix of safe-haven demand, inflation concerns and strong retail demand continues to support higher prices."

"The support we’ve seen for gold, given what is happening in the Middle East, is obviously to do with the political issues, but I think it’s got more to do with the rising inflation expectations on the back of the rapidly increasing oil price," said Standard Bank analyst Walter de Wet, according to Reuters. "Given that we’ve got negative real interest rates once again and higher oil prices … we think there’s still a couple of bucks in there," he said, of gold’s potential to gain further.

Oil for April delivery closed down 82 cents at $97.28 a barrel. Its intraday high was at $103.41.

Silver prices for March delivery dipped 13.2 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $33.166 an ounce. Silver on Thursday ranged between $32.905 and $33.740. The metal is up 7.2 percent this year due to soaring demand that lifted prices $2.67 higher between last Thursday and Wednesday.

Platinum and palladium posted gains following two straight days of deep losses.

Platinum prices for April delivery rose $10.10, or 0.6 percent, to $1,786.80 an ounce. It traded between $1,770.05 and $1,804.30.

Palladium prices for March delivery advanced $3.20, or 0.4 percent, to $777.75 an ounce. Prices ranged from $756.30 to $787.20. Palladium has declined $79.95 since Friday, resulting in a 3.2 percent loss on the year.

All but gold moved lower in PM London precious metals prices. The PM gold fixing rose $2.25 above the previous PM fix and stood at $1,411.50 an ounce. The London silver fixing was $33.280 an ounce for a loss of a penny. The platinum fix was down $22 at $1,772 an ounce and the palladium fix was lower by $39 at $770.00 an ounce.

United States Mint Authorized Purchasers were focused Thursday on American Silver Eagle bullion coins, as no other bullion options advanced. Silver Eagles climbed 25,000 and are already in record territory with the best February sales ever. A new milestone of 9 million for the year was hit earlier this week.

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) 2,663,500 9,085,500


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