Gold Prices Mixed as Quake Slams Japan


Gold for April delivery was losing $1.60 to $1,410.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price has traded as high as $1,419.30 and as low as $1,404.80. The spot gold price was adding 30 cents, according to Kitco's gold index.

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Silver prices were shedding 61 cents to $34.45.

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The worst earthquake in Japan for 140 years was squeezing global markets as investors tried to digest how this would affect neighboring countries, demand for commodities and curtail a worldwide economic recovery. 

Gold was paring earlier losses but was struggling to regain momentum as the metal was moving with oil prices and black gold was down more than $2 as investors worried that the tragedy in Japan would stop local oil demand. Oil prices fell below the $100 mark in early trading as reports circulated that refiners in the country were shut down.

Oil prices were also under pressure as OPEC said total crude oil production rose by 110,000 barrels a day in February to more than 30 million. Saudi Arabia production rose to almost 9 million barrels a day, more than offsetting declines in Libya of 232,700 barrels.

"Oil has been in the driver's seat," says Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco.com, dominating everything from gold to stocks to currencies. "Gold and equities should be parting ways and going in different directions. It's not happening."

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The dollar was rising against the euro. The U.S. currency could see more safe-haven demand from investors, which would weigh on dollar-backed commodities like gold and silver. Nadler thinks the volatility in gold and silver will continue.

James Moore, research analyst at FastMarkets, says that both metals could be subject to even more profit taking "but given the mix of inflation concerns and the situation in the MENA and EU debt we expect dips will continue to be viewed as bargain hunting opportunities." 

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