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(Kitco News) -Comex gold futures ended higher and hit a fresh four-week high Wednesday as investor risk appetite is shrinking and investors are again seeking out safe-haven gold. Meantime, silver futures were lower amid a sharp sell off in crude oil futures prices. August gold last traded up $8.50 an ounce at $1,545.30. Spot gold last traded up $9.70 an ounce at $1,544.50. July Comex silver last traded down $0.53 at $37.775 an ounce.

A slew of weaker-than-expected U.S. economic data recently has spooked many investors, which in turn has prompted a move into safe-have assets such as gold and U.S. Treasuries. Wednesday's much weaker than expected ADP jobs report shook traders, who now are wondering if Friday's more important employment report from the U.S. Labor Department will also show tepid jobs growth. Crude oil prices sold off sharply on the weaker U.S. economic data Wednesday.

Safe-haven buying has also surfaced in the precious metals recently due to the European Union's smaller countries' sovereign debt crisis. While there are now ideas the EU and IMF are closer to working out a debt relief deal with Greece, most veteran traders realize the proverbial can is just being kicked a bit farther down the road on that matter.

Importantly, if one examines the U.S. Treasury market (prices hit six-month highs Wednesday) and takes a look at the Swiss franc (new all-time highs against the U.S. dollar this week) it becomes evident that investors are seeking out safe-haven assets and their risk appetite is shrinking. Many times markets will start to make a move before an actual event occurs, in a "buy the rumor, sell the fact" fashion. The shrinking investor risk appetite, as evidenced by rallying gold, U.S. Treasury and Swiss franc prices, makes me suspect an event could soon occur to rationalize those markets' recent price moves.

Better physical demand from Asia recently has also been bullish for the precious metals.

The U.S. dollar index is traded steady to weaker Wednesday and hit another fresh three-week low. The U.S. dollar index bulls have faded and bears have regained downside near-term technical momentum. The dollar index is now in a posture where it could head back down and retest the recent 2.5-year low in the near term. Such would be bullish for the precious metals markets.

Reports overnight said Russia and Mexico added to their gold reserves in April, according to the International Monetary Fund. Mexico added 190,320 ounces, while Russia added 441,000 ounces. This is also bullish for gold as it underscores the overall demand posture for the metal remains solid.

The London P.M. gold fixing $1,533.75 versus the previous P.M. fixing of $1,536.50.

Technically, August gold futures closed nearer the session high, hit a fresh four-week high and scored a bullish "outside day" up on the daily bar chart Wednesday, whereby the day's high was higher and low was lower than Tuesday's daily trading range, with a higher close. Gold bulls have the solid overall near-term and longer-term technical advantage. Bulls' next near-term upside technical objective is to produce a close above solid technical resistance at the all-time high of $1,577.70. Bears' next near-term downside price objective is closing prices below solid technical support at $1,515.60. First resistance is seen at Wednesday's high of $1,551.60 and then at $1,558.00. First support is seen at Wednesday's low of $1,530.40 and then at $1,525.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 7.5.

July Comex silver futures closed near mid-range Wednesday and saw profit-taking pressure from recent gains. Sharply lower crude oil prices helped to pressure silver. Silver bulls still have the overall near-term technical advantage. Prices have been trending higher for three weeks. 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 solid technical resistance at $39.47 an ounce. First resistance is seen at $38.00 and then at Wednesday's high of $38.50. Next support is seen at Wednesday's low of $37.51 and then at $37.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 6.0.

July N.Y. copper closed down 735 points at 410.40 cents Wednesday. Prices closed near the session low and were pressured by profit taking and sharply lower crude oil prices. Copper bulls still have the slight overall near-term technical advantage. Copper bulls' next upside breakout objective is pushing and closing prices above solid technical resistance at the May high of 426.70 cents. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below major psychological support at 400.00 cents. First resistance is seen at 412.50 cents and then at 415.00 cents. First support is seen at 407.50 cents and then at 405.00 cents. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 5.5.

Follow me on Twitter! If you want daily, or nightly, up-to-the-second market analysis on gold and silver price action, follow me on Twitter. It's free, too. My account is @jimwyckoff .

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

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