Gold Closes Week at Record, Silver Prices Jump 6.9%


Fine Gold BarsU.S. gold futures rose modestly Friday, capping nine straight session gains and closing the week with four consecutive daily records. Gold gained $48.50, or 3.1 percent, this week as worries over U.S. and European nation debt issues intensified.

"The longer the debt talk drags on, the more you would want to own a safe haven like gold. The crude oil market is also rallying quite nicely, and that’s a big element in support for gold," James Steel, chief commodity analyst at HSBC, said according to Reuters.

August gold prices rose 80.0 cents, or 0.1 percent, to close at $1,590.10 an ounce on the Comex in New York. The yellow metal traded between $1,576.00 and $1,592.40. Gold has risen 11.9 percent in 2011.

"Gold prices will continue to find strength next week as the debt-ceiling talks in the U.S. drag on and investors fret about the chances for default for some European economies," noted Kitco Metals’ Debbie Carlson in a metals outlook article. "If an agreement is reached on lifting the U.S. debt ceiling, prices could pull back, but buying interest under the market will limit the downside for gold prices, market watchers said.

Carlson added that "these concerns, plus thoughts that the U.S. Federal Reserve has left the door open to another potential round of fiscal stimulus if the U.S. economy falters, pushed gold prices to record levels this week."

Silver followed gold, moving higher on the day and week. Silver prices for September delivery settled up 37.7 cents, or 1.0 percent, to $39.071 an ounce. The metal’s intraday low was $37.890 while its high was $39.130. Silver prices surged 6.9 percent this week and have jumped 26.3 percent in 2011.

"From a market perspective, there are several things hold the precious metals in check right now, not the least of which is the U.S. debt discussion in Congress — that coupled with profit taking," Steve Gillette, president of Cirrus Commodities Exchange, was cited on MarketWatch.

The U.S. debt ceiling crisis discussions "have begun to crystallize the thinking about what people have been told with respect to precious metals as an asset class and money alternative."

Platinum prices for October delivery declined $18.80, or 1.1 percent, to close at $1,755.50 an ounce. They ranged between $1,750.90 and $1,773.40.

Palladium prices for September delivery fell $2.70, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $780.65 an ounce. The metal touched an intraday low of $769.95 and hit a high of $785.90.

Although both platinum and palladium declined Friday, they registered respective weekly gains of 1.3 percent and 0.2 percent.

Although precious metals fell in London on the day, they gained on the week. When comparing London Fix prices on Friday (PM) from those on Thursday (PM), gold declined $3.50 to $1,587.00 an ounce, silver prices fell $1.23 at $38.17 an ounce, platinum declined $17.00 to $1,760.00 an ounce, and palladium fell $11.00 at $777.00 an ounce.

London Fix weekly increases included 3.0 percent for gold, 5.2 percent for silver, 1.1 percent for platinum and 0.1 percent for palladium.

American bullion coins moved a touch slower this week. Sales of the one-ounce 22-karat American Gold Eagle advanced 10,500 for the week versus the prior 11,000. None of the fractional Gold Eagles moved. The 24-karat American Buffalo Gold bullion coin matched its previous weekly pick-up of 2,000. Finally, the .999 fine American Silver Eagle posted slightly lower numbers — 711,000 against 750,000. Based on the coin’s current pace, it will hit 24 million in year-to-date sales by next week.

The latest United States Mint bullion product sales figures follow:

US Mint American Eagle and Buffalo Bullion Coin Sales
Gold Eagle Coin (1 oz.) 0 11,000 10,500 21,500 529,000
Gold Eagle Coin (1/2 oz.) 0 1,000 0 1,000 56,000
Gold Eagle Coin (1/4 oz.) 0 0 0 0 64,000
Gold Eagle Coin (1/10 oz.) 0 5,000 0 5,000 255,000
Gold Buffalo Coin (1 oz.) 0 2,000 2,000 4,000 83,500
Silver Eagle (1 oz.) 120K 750K 711K 1.461M 23.7645M


America the Beautiful 5 Oz. Silver Bullion Coin Sales*
Gettysburg National Military Park 5 oz. 126,700
Glacier National Park 5 oz. 126,700
Olympic National Park 5 oz. 80,700
Vicksburg National Military Park 5 oz. 21,800


*America the Beautiful (ATB) Silver bullion coin sales figures are not published by the United States Mint daily. The current year-to-date figure has an "as of date" of July 11.

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