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Gold Settles Lower as U.S. Dollar Pops (Update 1)

Updated from 1:33 p.m. EST with settlement prices

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Gold prices dipped below the flatline on Friday as U.S. dollar strength put downward pressure on the yellow metal. Gold prices dropped 1.1% on Thursday.

Gold for April delivery lost $5.80 to settle at $1,572.30 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price traded as high as $1,586.90 and as low as $1,564 an ounce, while the spot price was slipping $5.20, according to Kitco's gold index.

"The euro has been on the defensive and I think that's been the great weight on gold today," said James Steel, chief commodities analyst at HSBC Bank USA. "I don't think the volume is by any means great today."

Volume for April futures, the most traded contract, totaled 180,369. The euro was decreasing to $1.3019, down from the prior day's close at $1.3057.

Silver prices for May delivery added 6 cents to close at $28.47 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was popping 0.44% to $82.30.

Gold has been stuck in a downward-pressured trading range for weeks, as questions about how long the Federal Reserve would maintain its highly accommodative policies has left doubts to hang above the future of the precious metal.

A steady trickle of optimistic economic data in housing, manufacturing and other areas has also weighed down on gold, which many traders view as a safe haven against economic turbulence and inflation.

This week's surge in stocks, especially as the Dow Jones Industrial Average has tested its highest closing level, also has hurt gold prices.

"The stock market keeps going up, which gives a lot of people maybe reason to sell their gold," Yoni Jacobs, chief investment strategist at Chart Prophet, said in an interview. "We're seeing China being a little tighter now, because they're afraid of inflation, which is [why] China has been a big reason for the bulls to get into gold, but now all of a sudden it's looking a little weak to them."

With the exception of Tuesday's jump of nearly $30 an ounce, the yellow metal hasn't received much positive support in recent weeks.

"It seems almost like a change in the momentum, where it's kind of like a vacuum at the trough of a little mini bearish cycle, which is what gold and silver have been in," said Anthem Blanchard, CEO of Blanchard Vault. "It just feels like, 'OK, there's just so much negativity, OK, it's risk-on.'"
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