(Kitco News) -Comex gold futures prices ended modestly higher Monday and set another all-time record high. Silver futures prices were also higher and hit a fresh 31-year high Monday. Middle East uncertainty, fresh European Union sovereign debt concerns and a weakening U.S. dollar index all pushed the precious metals markets higher. Some mild profit-taking pressure surfaced  in the precious metals around mid-morning as crude oil backed down from its high and the U.S. dollar index rebounded from its daily low. Comex April gold last traded up $5.10 an ounce at $1,433.70. Spot gold last traded up $1.00 at $1,434.50.

There were overnight reports that fighting between Gadhaffi loyalists and opposition forces was raging near the oil fields in Libya. This drove crude oil prices to another fresh 2.5-year high above $106.00 a barrel. Crude came off its high around mid-morning on rumors Gadhaffi is willing to negotiate with the opposition. Not only is the overall Middle East situation and its uncertainty inviting safe-haven investment demand into the precious metals markets, but the soaring crude oil market is also stoking already heightened inflation concerns. Precious metals traders and other traders will continue to look to the crude oil market as a gauge of tension in the Middle East.

Reports overnight said Moody's ratings agency has once again downgraded Greece's sovereign debt rating by three notches. While this move by Moody's was not a surprise development, it reminded the market place of the major problems the European Union is facing with its smaller countries' sovereign debt. Precious metals market bulls realize these problems cannot be easily solved and will continue to undermine the Euro currency, with the possibility of a debt contagion spreading worldwide.

The U.S. dollar index traded slightly higher in late dealings Monday and did hit a fresh five-month low early on. The technical posture of the dollar index remains very weak at present. If the dollar index continues to trade sideways to lower, which is what the technical picture is still suggesting at present, then that would continue to be bullish for the precious metals markets.

The London P.M. gold fix was $1,437.50 versus the previous P.M. fixing of $1,427.00.

Technically, April Comex gold futures prices closed near mid-range Monday. The gold market bulls still have the strong overall technical advantage. There are still no early technical clues to suggest a market top is close at hand for gold. A steep six-week-old price uptrend is in place on the daily bar chart. Bulls' next near-term upside technical objective is to produce a close above solid technical resistance at $1,450.00. Bears' next near-term downside price breakout objective is closing prices below solid technical support at $1,410.00. First resistance is seen at Monday's all-time high of $1,445.70 and then at $1,450.00. First support is seen at Monday's low of $1,428.30 and then at $1,420.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 8.5.

May silver futures closed up 78.3 cents at $36.11 an ounce Monday. Prices closed near mid-range and hit another fresh contract and 31-year high. Some late profit-taking did knock silver down from its daily high. The silver bulls have the strong overall near-term technical advantage. There are still no early technical clues to suggest a market top is close at hand. Prices are in a steep six-week-old uptrend on the daily bar chart. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at $34.00. Bulls' next upside price objective is producing a close above solid technical resistance at $37.50 an ounce. First resistance is seen at Monday's contract high of $36.745 and then at $37.00. Next support is seen at Monday's low of $35.605 and then at $35.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 8.5.

May N.Y. copper closed down 1,500 points at 433.50 cents Monday. Prices closed nearer the session low on profit-taking pressure and amid ideas rising oil prices will choke world economic expansion. No chart serious chart damage occurred Monday, but good follow-through selling pressure on Tuesday would likely inflict serious chart damage. The bulls certainly faded badly Monday. Bulls' next upside breakout objective is pushing and closing prices above solid technical resistance at last week's high of 455.40 cents. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at the February low of 424.35 cents. First resistance is seen at 435.00 cents and then at 437.50. First support is seen at Monday's low of 430.40 cents and then at 427.50 cents. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 5.5.

By Jim Wyckoff of Kitco News; jwyckoff@kitco.com

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