(Kitco News) -Gold prices ended higher and near the daily high Thursday, as several factors worked to propel the precious metals markets solidly up on the day. Gold and silver prices are right back near Monday's new for-the-move highs. Comex June gold last traded up $16.60 an ounce at $1,472.20. Spot gold last traded up $14.20 at $1,472.00.

Gold prices were holding slight gains early Thursday when some U.S. economic data was released to help push prices higher. The weekly jobless claims report came in weaker than expected and the U.S. producer price index had a core reading that was a bit hotter than expected. The U.S. dollar index sunk to a fresh 16-month low following the release of the economic data, which boosted the gold market bulls. The very weak technical posture of the U.S. dollar index also remains a bullish underlying factor for the precious metals markets. However, if the dollar index can produce a sustained uptrend it would be a clue that gold has put in a near-term market top. But so far, the greenback has not come close to suggesting such.

Crude oil prices posted a modest rally Thursday, after having sold off sharply Monday and Tuesday. Crude is still trading above $107.00 a barrel, which is an underlying bullish factor for the precious metals due to the inflationary implications. Look for the precious metals markets to continue to very closely track price movements in the crude oil market for at least the near term.

There were more news headlines Thursday regarding the European Union's sovereign debt problems. Greek bond yields have risen markedly this week and EU officials keep trying to "talk down" this major and recurring debt crisis. This prompted fresh safe-haven investment demand for the precious metals Thursday.

The specter of increasing inflationary pressures is gaining more investor attention. Precious metals prices have been boosted in recent months in part by heightened inflation concerns among investors. For various reasons the U.S. Federal Reserve still believes inflation is not a problem in the U.S.--despite the fact gasoline prices are nearing $4.00 a gallon and other raw commodity markets are at record or multi-year highs, causing rising food prices. Other major central banks of the world have realized the potential for serious price inflation, but the U.S. Fed is behind the curve and will likely have to play catch up sooner rather than later.

There were rumors and reports Thursday that China's consumer price index, due out Friday, would come in above expectations at 5.3% to 5.4%. This has bolstered concerns of building Chinese inflation and has raised expectations the country will continue to tighten its monetary policy.

On Thursday World Bank President Robert Zoellick also warned of rising food inflation and high energy prices as risks to world economic growth. Zoellick also cited high sovereign debts in major countries as another risk to the world's economic recovery.

The London P.M. gold fix was $1,465.75 versus the previous P.M. fixing of $1,457.50.

Technically, June Comex gold futures prices closed nearer the session high Thursday and are right back close to the all-time high of $1,478.00 an ounce scored on Monday. Bulls remain in strong technical command. There are still no early technical warning signals that a market top is close at hand. Prices are in a 2.5-month-old uptrend on the daily bar chart and in a 10-year-old uptrend on the longer-term monthly chart. Bulls' next near-term upside technical objective is to produce a close above major psychological resistance at $1,500.00. Bears' next near-term downside price breakout objective is closing prices below solid technical support at this week's low of $1,445.00. First resistance is seen at the all-time high of $1,478.00 and then at $1,485.00. First support is seen at $1,460.00 and then at Thursday's low of $1,453.20. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 8.5.

May silver futures closed up 146.3 cents at $41.70 an ounce Thursday. Prices closed near the session high and closed at a fresh contract and 31-year high close. Bulls have the solid overall near-term technical advantage and gained more power Thursday. A 2.5-month-old uptrend is in place on the daily bar chart. There are still no early clues to suggest a market top is close at hand. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at $39.00. Bulls' next upside price objective is producing a close above solid technical resistance at $43.00 an ounce. First resistance is seen at Monday's contract and 31-year high of $41.975 and then at $42.50. Next support is seen at $41.50 and then at $41.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 8.5.

May N.Y. copper closed down 110 points at 428.35 cents Thursday. Prices closed near mid-range on more profit-taking pressure. Bulls still have the slight overall near-term technical advantage, but are fading again and need to show fresh power soon. Worries about demand from China are bearish for copper, as the Chinese have recently raised interest rates and may do it again soon, to decrease demand. Copper bulls' next upside breakout objective is pushing and closing prices above solid technical resistance at this week's high of 453.30 cents. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at the April low of 421.35 cents. First resistance is seen at 430.00 cents and then at Thursday's high of 431.75. First support is seen at Thursday's low of 424.55 cents and then at 421.35 cents. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 6.0.

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

Don’t Miss a Word! Read Kitco News on the Go with Kcast Gold Live for iPad! Get it now!

<<Back to more Kitco exclusive news