By The Associated Press
Gold closed lower for a sixth straight week on Friday, its longest losing streak in eight years.
Gold lost $25.70 to settle at $1,648.90 an ounce. It's now 8 percent below the recent peak of $1,792 an ounce it reached on Oct. 4. It rose as high as $1,900 an ounce in August 2011.
The latest decline came after the Federal Reserve released minutes of its December meeting showing that policymakers disagreed over how long to keep a bond-purchase program in place.Traders inferred the Fed might shorten the program, which could send U.S. interest rates, and therefore the dollar, higher. That in turn would hurt the price of gold, which investors often buy as an alternative to holding dollars. An index measuring the dollar against six other currencies is up 1 percent this week. Other metals also fell. March silver lost 77.4 cents to $29.946 an ounce. March copper fell 2.35 cents to $3.6935 per pound. March palladium lost $8.65 to $688.50 per ounce. Platinum for April delivery fell $21.40 to $1,558.50 per ounce. March contracts for key agricultural commodities fell as well. Corn fell 9 cents to $6.8025 a bushel. Soybeans lost 19.25 cents to $13.6725 a bushel. Wheat fell 8.25 cents to $7.4725 per bushel. Benchmark crude for February delivery closed up 17 cents at $93.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline lost 3.34 cents to end at $2.7643 a gallon, heating oil fell 0.74 cent to finish at $3.0177 a gallon and natural gas rose 8.9 cents to end at $3.2870 per 1,000 cubic feet.