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(Kitco News) - Comex December gold futures prices traded both sides of unchanged Thursday, but did not stray too far away from steady, as the market consolidated recent, more volatile price action. Firmer U.S. and European stock indexes pulled some investment demand away from the precious metals Thursday. However, higher crude oil prices did limit selling pressure in the precious metals Thursday. December gold last traded down $4.00 an ounce at $1,614.10 an ounce. Spot gold last traded up $4.90 an ounce at $1,615.00. December Comex silver last traded up $0.216 at $30.35 an ounce.

U.S. and European stock markets traded higher Thursday, as risk appetite at least temporarily increased, on news reports the European Union sovereign debt situation may be a improving just a bit, or at least is not deteriorating further. The German government on Thursday did pass a motion to increase the funding facility for bailing out the debt-strapped nations of the EU--namely Greece. The apparent stabilization of the EU debt crisis has pulled investment demand away from safe-haven gold. At present, it appears the market place has moved the EU debt crisis off the front burner and is focusing on other matters, such as fresh economic reports.

Reports of good physical demand for gold from Asia are also limiting the downside in gold.

The U.S. dollar index traded near steady Thursday. The dollar index bulls still have the overall near-term technical advantage, which has been an underlying bearish factor for the precious metals.

Crude oil futures prices traded solidly higher Thursday after posting strong losses Wednesday. Trading has turned very choppy in crude oil this week. Precious metals traders will continue to look to the crude oil market for some price direction.

The London P.M. gold fixing was $1,613.00 versus the previous P.M. fixing of $1,643.00.

Technically, December gold futures prices closed near mid-range Thursday. Bears still have the slight overall near-term technical advantage in gold. Serious near-term technical damage has been inflicted recently. Prices are in a steep three-week-old downtrend on the daily bar chart. Bulls' next upside technical objective is to produce a close above solid technical resistance at $1,705.40. Bears' next near-term downside price objective is closing prices below strong technical support at this week's low of $1,535.00. First resistance is seen at Thursday's high of $1,637.90 and then at $1,650.00. First support is seen at $1,600.00 and then at Thursday's low of $1,585.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 4.5.

December silver futures prices closed near mid-range Thursday. Serious near-term chart damage has been inflicted recently. Prices are still in a six-week-old downtrend on the daily bar chart. Silver bulls' next upside price objective is producing a close above strong technical resistance at this week's high of $33.585 an ounce. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at this week's low of $26.15. First resistance is seen at $31.00 and then at Thursday's high of $31.535. Next support is seen at $30.00 and then at $29.50. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 3.5.

December N.Y. copper closed down 25 points 324.40 cents Thursday. Prices closed nearer the session high. Serious near-term chart damage has occurred recently. Copper bears have the solid overall near-term technical advantage as a four-week-old downtrend is in place on the daily bar chart. Copper bulls' next upside breakout objective is pushing and closing prices above solid technical resistance at 350.00 cents. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid technical support at this week's low of 307.15 cents. First resistance is seen at Thursday's high of 328.95 cents and then at 330.00 cents. First support is seen at 320.00 cents and then at 316.50 cents. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 2.0.

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

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