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Gold Prices Settle at New Record

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Gold prices made new highs Tuesday as the end of the third quarter forced traders to re-balance their gold positions.

Gold for December delivery settled $9.70 higher at $1,308.30 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price Tuesday has traded as high as $1,311.80 and as low as $1,276.20.

The U.S. dollar index was down 0.51% to $79.04 while the euro rallied to $1.35 vs. the dollar. The spot gold price was rallying $13.10, according to Kitco's gold index.

Tuesday was volatile as the metal reversed early double-digit losses to break through to new highs. Technical trading, bargain-hunting, rumors of a downgrade of Spanish debt and weak consumer confidence in the U.S. were setting the stage for higher gold prices.

Gold has been a top performer in the third quarter, rallying 5.2% as investors fled into the safe-haven asset on the back of a stalled U.S. economic recovery and weak guidance from top companies like Intel (INTC).

The popular gold exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), currently holds 1,300.52 tons, just shy of the 1,319.21 tons it held on July 1.

Stocks are also on their way to ending the quarter on a positive note. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 10% for the quarter but this is after a painful slide in August and a monster rally in September.

"The end of the quarter is Thursday and you're going to have a lot of window dressing there," says Phil Streible, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock. "If I'm a money manager or fund manager I want to look like I'm long gold, silver, Apple (AAPL), some key movers from the last quarter."

Due to the rebalancing act, many traders aren't planning on taking gold's price swings over the next few days very seriously. Streible predicts prices could hit $1,315 to $1,325 an ounce towards the end of the week but then sell off after the "weak longs," those that are just buying gold as show for the end of the quarter, leave the market.

Long-term gold experts are still watching the Federal Reserve for signs of monetary easing. Expectations were slightly dashed late Monday when The Wall Street Journal reported that the Fed might introduce a smaller-scale, more long-term bond-buying program than the one introduced in 2009.

The more modest plan could hurt those traders who were selling the dollar and buying gold as a hedge against future inflation based on the expectation that the Fed would restart its printing presses.

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