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Gold Prices Settle Higher Following Japan Tragedy

NEW YORK (TheStreet ) -- Gold prices rose tentatively higher Monday as gold's tug-of-war took center stage. Safe haven buyers bought the metal as protection against escalating devastation in Japan but profit takers sold gold to cover losses in other assets.

Gold for April delivery added $3.10 to settle at $1,424.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price has traded as high as $1,433.50 and as low as $1,418.20. The spot gold price was rising more than $6, according to Kitco's gold index.

Silver prices settled down 9 cents to $35.84 an ounce.

Gold prices struggled to gain upward momentum as profit taking weighed on the metal. Gold was 1% higher in early trading, then sold off to session lows, and has since rebounded, higher even still in post-market trading. Primarily gold is seeing selling from Japanese investors as they raise cash to deal with the aftermath of Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

Phil Streible, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock, says that Japanese investors tend to buy assets that they can get a better return on versus the yen which returns 0%. A favorite trade is short yen, long gold, for example, says Streible, and now they are "selling their gold and their silver to try and raise back capital ... [but that] will reverse at some point."

Strieble believes gold is "definitely going to make new contract highs again."

The death toll in Japan is expected to top 10,000 and the country reported another explosion at one of its nuclear plants, its second since Saturday.

The Bank of Japan has also pumped money into the system to keep the economy going.

Stock quotes in this article: AUY 

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