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December 24, 2008 > Gold prices falter as dollar strengthens

Gold prices falter as dollar strengthens

By Sara Lepro, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP), Dec 19 _ Gold prices declined Friday, as the dollar gained further strength against other major currencies, including the euro and the British pound.

Energy prices recovered some, while agriculture futures fell.

``The dollar's surge diverted would-be buyers and emboldened profit-takers,'' wrote Jon Nadler, a senior analyst at Kitco Bullion Dealers Montreal, in a research note. ``Poor physical demand in key markets is obviously still playing a pivotal role in gold's short-term fortunes.''

Gold for February delivery fell $23.20 to settle at $837.40 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Still, prices are up 2.1 percent for the week.

Other precious metals prices were mixed. March silver slipped 27 cents to $10.85 an ounce, while March copper futures rose 2.5 cents to $1.3265 a pound.

On Wall Street, stocks pared early gains to end a choppy day relatively flat, as Wall Street remained uncertain that a $17.4 billion lifeline for U.S. automakers will make a lasting difference for the beleaguered industry.

In the early going, investors cheered the government's pledge to provide General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC with short-term financing and sent the Dow Jones industrial average up as much as 182 points. After fluctuating throughout the afternoon, the Dow Jones industrial average finished down about 25 points to the 8,579 level, while the broader stock indexes rose less than 1 percent, as enthusiasm over the bailout waned.

Yields on long-term Treasurys recovered from record lows on Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.13 percent from 2.07 percent late Thursday.

Oil prices stabilized Friday after plunging earlier this week on demand concerns. Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose 69 cents to settle at $42.36 a barrel.

The January contract, which expired Friday, fell $2.35 to settle at $33.87, the lowest close in nearly five years. But analysts largely discounted the January price, with the volume of the next month contract trading at 3 times the volume.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures rose less than a penny to settle at 96.93 cents a gallon, while heating oil gained nearly 2 cents to settle at $1.392 a gallon.

Grain prices fell moderately on the Chicago Board of Trade.

``Instead of selling off sharply today following the big rally in the dollar ... the market has suffered only modest losses, which can be taken as a sign the market is stronger than many suspect,'' wrote Vic Lespinasse, an analyst at, in a research note.

March wheat futures fell 8.25 cents to $5.6325 a bushel, while corn for March delivery fell 8.75 cents to $3.8075 a bushel.

March soybeans dipped 2 cents to $8.7250 a bushel.

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