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(Kitco News) -Comex gold futures prices ended the U.S. day session slightly higher Thursday and scored another fresh all-time record high of $1,594.90, basis August futures. Silver finished higher and hit a fresh nine-week high as prices closed in on the $40.00-an-ounce level. Safe-haven investment demand was again featured amid the European Union sovereign debt crisis and the U.S. government wrangling over its debt ceiling. Sharply lower crude oil prices did somewhat limit the upside in the precious metals Thursday. August gold last traded up $4.40 at $1,589.90 an ounce. Spot gold last traded up $6.90 an ounce at $1,590.00. December Comex silver last traded up $0.552 at $38.72 an ounce.

The precious metals backed off down from their daily highs in
late-morning trading Thursday when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that there are presently no Fed plans in place to implement further easing of U.S. monetary policy. On Wednesday, Bernanke told the Congress further monetary easing would be possible if the U.S. economy continues to sputter. The U.S. dollar index moved well off its lows following Bernanke's comments Thursday, and crude oil prices sold off, which in turn put downside pressure on gold and silver prices.

The downside price pressure in the precious metals Thursday was also very likely some profit-taking pressure from recent solid gains that earlier Thursday drove August gold to a fresh all-time record high.

News late Wednesday that Moody's issued a warning on the U.S. government debt's AAA rating was the latest in a string of credit agency warnings on European Union debt. The Moody's warning on U.S. debt was no big surprise to the market place, but what it did was somewhat shift the focus of the world market place to the debt-ceiling fight going on in the U.S. government.  The Moody's warning on U.S. debt reminded precious metals bulls that the present currency markets are on shaky ground and that gold is a historical worldwide currency.

The Euro currency has somewhat stabilized after the common currency hit a 3.5-month low on Tuesday. EU leaders are set to meet Friday at a summit, and there are also some European bank stress test results due out Friday, reports said. Meantime, the U.S. dollar index traded weaker again Thursday after getting smacked on Wednesday in the wake of Fed Chairman Bernanke's suggestion that more U.S. monetary policy easing may occur.

Crude oil prices traded solidly lower and dipped below $95.00 a barrel Thursday. Fears that a world economic slowdown is in progress amid the EU debt crisis have been a bearish weight on the crude oil market recently. Bernanke's remarks Thursday saying no easing plans are presently in place were also an underlying bearish factor for crude oil. Crude oil will remain a major "outside market" force for the precious metals.

The London P.M. gold fixing was $1,590.50 versus the previous P.M. fixing of $1,579.00.

Technically, August gold futures prices closed near mid-range Thursday. Gold bulls have the strong overall near-term technical advantage. There are no early clues to suggest a market top is close at hand and the path of least resistance for prices remains sideways to higher for gold. Bulls' next near-term upside technical objective is to produce a close above psychological resistance at $1,600.00. Bears' next near-term downside price objective is closing prices below solid technical support at the June high of $1,559.30. First resistance is seen at Thursday's record high of $1,594.90 and then at $1,600.00. First support is seen at Thursday's low of $1,579.40 and then at $1,570.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 9.0.

December silver futures prices closed near mid-range Thursday and hit a fresh nine-week high. The silver bulls have the solid overall technical advantage and gained more power Thursday. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at $36.00. Bulls' next upside price objective is producing a close above major psychological resistance at $40.00 an ounce. First resistance is seen at $39.00 and then at Thursday's high of $39.40. Next support is seen at $38.50 and then at Thursday's low of $38.04. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 7.5.

December N.Y. copper closed down 230 points 439.70 cents Thursday. Prices closed nearer the session low. The copper bulls still have the solid overall near-term technical advantage, but bulls are worried about the world's economies slowing down. Sharply lower crude oil prices today also pressured copper prices. Copper bulls' next upside breakout objective is pushing and closing prices above solid technical resistance at 450.00 cents. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at 425.00 cents. First resistance is seen at Thursday's high of 442.70 cents and then at 445.00 cents. First support is seen at Thursday's low of 438.60 cents and then at 435.00 cents. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 7.0.

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By Jim Wyckoff, contributing to Kitco News; jwyckoff@kitco.com

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