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The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday reported that the Consumer Price Index fell 0.2% in March after increasing 0.7% in February. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting the CPI to remain unchanged. Excluding food and energy costs, the CPI rose 0.1% in March after increasing 0.2% in February. The consensus estimate was for the CPI, excluding food and energy, to rise 0.2%.
The inflation numbers added fuel to the fire for the continuance of the Federal Reserve's "highly accommodative" policy of keeping the short-term federal funds rate in a range of zero to 0.25%. The central bank has also been making monthly purchases of $85 billion in long-term securities in an attempt to hold long-term rates down.
After an epic two-day decline of 14%, gold for June delivery on the COMEX rose $26.30, or 1.9%, to $1,387.40 an ounce. When discussing the previous two days' drop in a note to clients early Tuesday, Bank of America Merrill Lynch metals strategist Michael Widmer said "fears of central bank gold sales in the Eurozone and poor economic data out of China have been key triggers, with forced margin sellers likely exacerbating the spectacular downward move."
"The sharp drop in gold prices comes at a time when disinflationary pressures are starting to build in different pockets of the global economy," Widmer wrote. The analyst removed his $2,000 an ounce target price for gold in 2014, but added that "medium-term, jewelry demand should support $1,500/oz."
TheStreet'sGold Page for continuing coverage of this story.
KBW Bank Index(I:BKX) was up over 1% to close at 55.64, with all but two of the 24 index components seeing gains for the session.
Citi Rides Earnings
Investors continued to cheer Citigroup's first-quarter results, which were reported on Monday. The company reported first-quarter earnings of $3.81 billion, or $1.23 a share, compared to earnings of $1.2 billion, or 38 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, and $2.93 billion, or 95 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2012.