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(Kitco News) - Comex December gold futures prices ended the U.S. day session modestly higher Thursday, on some follow-through buying strength from the solid gains posted on Wednesday and on some more bargain-hunting buying interest. The gold market continues to consolidate recent choppy day-to-day trading activity. December gold last traded up $10.30 an ounce at $1,651.90 an ounce. Spot gold last traded up $7.60 an ounce at $1,650.75. December Comex silver last traded up $1.578 at $31.93 an ounce.

Traders are looking ahead to Friday morning's key U.S. employment report. The important non-farm payroll figure in the report is seen coming in at up 60,000. Look for more active trading in many markets, including the precious metals, in the immediate aftermath of the jobs report.

U.S. and European stock markets were firmer again Thursday due to some investor optimism regarding developments coming out of the European Union and its sovereign debt crisis. There were reports this week that EU monetary officials are working to shore up the weak European banking sector--in case Greece should actually default on its debt obligations in the near term. The world stock markets are also starting to focus on other matters and have mostly factored into prices the messy EU debt situation. Still, the EU debt crisis continues to be a major underlying bullish factor for the gold market.

The U.S. dollar index traded weaker by the end of the day Thursday, and that supported some fresh buying interest in the precious metals. The dollar index bulls still have the solid overall near-term technical advantage, however, which has been an underlying bearish factor for the precious metals recently.

Crude oil futures prices traded solidly higher again Thursday, on more short covering. Crude oil bulls have gained fresh upside technical momentum, which is also bullish for the precious metals. The past two sessions' price action in crude begin to suggest a near-term low in crude was put in place this week. If so, that would be an underlying bullish factor for the precious metals.

The London P.M. gold fixing was $1,635.00 versus the previous P.M. fixing of $1,617.00.

Technically, December gold futures prices closed near the session high Thursday. Gold market bears still have the slight near-term technical advantage. A bearish pennant pattern has formed on the daily bar chart. Prices are also still in a four-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 the September low of $1,535.00. First resistance is seen at Thursday's high of $1,656.80 and then at this week's high of $1,681.50. First support is seen at Thursday's low of $1,633.20 and then at $1,625.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 4.5.

December silver futures prices closed near the session high again Thursday. The key "outside markets" were bullish for silver, as the U.S. dollar index was lower and crude oil prices were solidly higher. Silver prices are still in a six-week-old downtrend on the daily bar chart. A bearish pennant pattern has also formed on the daily bar chart for silver. Silver bulls' next upside price objective is producing a close above strong technical resistance at last 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 the September low of $26.15. First resistance is seen at Thursday's high of $32.07 and then at $32.50. Next support is seen at $31.50 and then at $31.00. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 4.5.

December N.Y. copper closed up 1,515 points 325.75 cents Thursday. Prices closed near the session high and saw more short covering in a bear market. The key "outside markets" were again bullish for copper Thursday, as the U.S. dollar index was lower and crude oil prices were solid higher. Still, serious near-term chart damage has occurred in copper recently. Copper bears still have the overall near-term technical advantage as a two-month-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 300.00 cents. First resistance is seen at Thursday's high of 327.20 cents and then at 330.00 cents. First support is seen at 322.500 cents and then at 320.00 cents. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 2.5.

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

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