Thursday, 30 June 2011

Gold edges lower, other metals extend gains

June 30, 2011, 12:06 p.m. EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Gold inched lower Thursday, wavering between small gains and losses as it struggles to trade in the black after two days of solid gains.

Gold for August delivery declined $1.20, or 0.1%, to $1,509.50 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

So far this month, gold has declined about 1.6%, which was preceded by losses around 1.2% in May.

It gained roughly 1% in the last two sessions.

Gold had gained as commodities in general caught a lift from heightened hopes for the global economy after Greece took the first step towards another tranche of financial aid and approved an austerity plan.

Greek lawmakers on Wednesday and Thursday passed legislation to implement the plan, which includes privatizations and selling assets.

While the Greek vote isn’t supportive of gold, which thrives in bad economic news, other market forces have worked to keep prices supported, such as worries about elevated inflation, said Dan Smith, a metals analyst with Standard Chartered Bank in London.

“We see a lot of confusion about the Greek situation. The whole situation in Europe is distorted,” he said. “There has been some safe haven buying because of Greece and it’s coming out of the market now ... But the long term story is still bullish for gold.”

“Investors are looking for protection against event risk,” he added.

Positive news about the U.S. economy also helped take away some of the safe-haven buying in gold. A survey of manufacturing activity in the Chicago area unexpectedly rose in June, to 61.1% from 56.6% in May.

The Chicago PMI is particularly watched as it comes ahead of the national Institute for Supply Management’s index due Friday. Read more about PMI.

Earlier Friday, the Labor Department said 428,000 workers filed new applications for jobless benefits, barely changed from the week before. Read more about weekly jobless claims.

Meanwhile, other metals were outperforming gold on Wednesday, as revived optimism about the economy joined better-than-expected May pending home sales reported in the U.S to push copper and silver higher.

The metals extended their gains on Thursday. Silver for September delivery added 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $34.81 an ounce. September copper advanced 6 cents, or 1.4%, to $4.28 a pound.

Claudia Assis is a San Francisco-based reporter for MarketWatch. Sara Sjølin is a MarketWatch reporter, based in New York.

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