Gold prices recover, but still down for week

Gold prices, at lows not seen since January, recovered a bit to close at $1,630 an ounce. Fed minutes suggesting little inflation kept gold prices down.

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    An employee picks up a gold bar at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna in this 2011 file photo. Gold prices rebounded 1 percent in Thursday's markets.
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Gold on Thursday recovered some of the previous day's losses, rising about 1 percent. But it's still down sharply for the week, a victim of the Federal Reserve's prediction that it won't need to take more steps to stimulate the economy.

June gold rose $16 to $1,630.10 per ounce. The day before, it closed at its lowest level since January. Last week, it closed around $1,670 and was still hovering around there on Tuesday when the Fed's meeting minutes sent it plunging.

Investors were reacting to several points in the Fed minutes. The Fed said it doesn't expect inflation to be much of a problem because the recovery is so slow. That suppresses appetite for gold because investors buy the precious metal as a hedge against inflation.

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The Fed also said it doesn't foresee buying more bonds to pump money into the economy. The bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing, has pushed down the returns that investors can get on bonds and driven them to buy gold.

Metals rose across the board. May silver climbed 68.6 cents to $31.73 per ounce. May copper rose 0.5 cent to $3.7955 per pound. July platinum rose $9 to $1,067.60 per ounce. June palladium rose $12.05 to $644.80 per ounce.

In energy, natural gas fell while oil rose. Natural gas has declined to ten-year lows thanks partly to the mild winter. A government report Thursday detailing a surprisingly large increase in supply of natural gas also drove prices down. Natural gas fell 5.2 cents to $2.089 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Oil rose after two days of declines. Benchmark crude rose $1.84 to $103.31 per barrel. Heating oil was almost a penny higher at $3.1692 per gallon.

In agricultural commodities, wheat fell while corn and soybeans rose. May wheat fell 0.75 cent to $6.385 per bushel. Corn rose 1.5 cents to $6.5825 a bushel, and soybeans rose 14.5 cents, 1 percent, to $14.34 a bushel.

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