U.S. gold prices retreated Friday, falling for the first time in two weeks and away from a seven-week high. Silver moved in step with the gold, but marked losses for a second straight day.
Both metals rose on the week, however, as gold advanced 1.5 percent and silver added 1.9 percent. As was the case last Friday, inflation concerns and geopolitical tensions in the Mideast (plus North Africa) were among the bullish factors cited for their weekly gains.
April gold prices declined $6.50, or 0.5 percent, to close at $1,409.30 an ounce on the Comex in New York.
"People are looking to buy dips in gold, from an investment perspective, on the back of the Middle East issues," said Standard Bank analyst Walter de Wet, according to Reuters. "If tension eases there, I can see gold coming off."
Gold was traded as low as $1,400.10 and as high as $1,412.40. Despite gains this week, gold prices are still down 0.9 percent on the year.
"Gold had a corrective move, but new buying will come in because the geopolitical instability is far from over," Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago, said and was cited on Bloomberg.
Silver prices for March delivery lost 26.8 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $32.898 an ounce. It ranged from $32.035 to $33.125.
"If the situation in Libya can be resolved next week and unrest does not spread, gold and silver prices will likely fall after rising recently on Middle East uncertainty," wrote Debbie Carlson of Kitco News.
"However, if a peaceful end is not reached or if other countries see rioting, then precious metals prices will rise once more."
Silver has climbed 6.3 percent in 2011.
Platinum and palladium declined heavily on Tuesday and Wednesday, easily outpacing their more modest gains on Thursday and Friday.
Platinum prices for April delivery rose $16.60, or 0.9 percent, to $1,803.40 an ounce. Prices ranged between $1,783.30 and $1,805.40. Platinum declined 2.2 percent this week but it is 1.4 percent higher in 2011.
Palladium prices for March delivery added $7.70, or 1.0 percent, to $785.45 an ounce. It hit an intraday low of $774.30 and a high of $789.15. Palladium plummeted 8.4 percent this week, which pushed it lower on the year by 2.2 percent.
In PM London bullion prices, the gold fix was $1,402.50 an ounce for a loss of $9.00 from the previous PM fixing. The London Silver fix was $32.54 an ounce, down 74 cents. The platinum fixing advanced $19 to $1,791.00 and the palladium fixing added $15 to $785.00 an ounce. On a weekly basis, London metals were mixed with gains and losses that moved in the same direction as New York futures prices. Gold rose 1.4 percent and silver added 1.9 percent while platinum declined 2.5 percent and palladium plunged 7.3 percent.
United States Mint bullion coins were tame Friday, according to the latest sales figures published by the Mint. The one-ounce American Gold Eagles advanced 4,000 and the American Silver Eagles inched up 1,500.
Weekly numbers were slightly better for the Silver Eagles as compared to the previous week. Sales of the .999 fine silver bullion coins grew 842,500 since last Friday against 836,000 from the prior week. This week the Silver Eagles topped 9 million for the year. In addition, this month is now the best selling February for the coins since their introduction in 1986.
In related United States Mint gold and silver coin news but on the numismatic or collector front, the Mint on Friday issued the final 2011-dated commemoratives. For more information, read Medal of Honor Commemorative Coins Released.
The latest United States Mint bullion sales figures follow.
|U.S. Mint 2011 Bullion Coin Sales|
|Previous Weekly Gains||Weekly Gains||February||2011 Totals|
|American Eagle Gold Coin (1 oz)||20,500||9,000||67,500||198,000|
|American Eagle Gold Coin (1/2 oz)||5,000||7,000||12,000||13,000|
|American Eagle Gold Coin (1/4 oz)||14,000||0||16,000||18,000|
|American Eagle Gold Coin (1/10 oz)||95,000||0||100,000||120,000|
|American Eagle Silver (1 oz)||836,000||842,500||2,665,500||9,087,000|