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Gold Surges on Fear of Wider Syrian War (Update 2)

Updated from 1:12 p.m. ET with settlement prices

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Gold prices surged Tuesday as the possibility for U.S. military action in Syria escalated.

Gold for December delivery at the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange popped $27.10 to settle at $1,420.20 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,424 and as low as $1,395.20 an ounce, while the spot price was gaining to $1,415.73.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Syria used chemical weapons against its civilians, but wouldn't say if the Obama administration would take military action.

"Gold is nothing more than a liquid currency for the world," Dennis Gartman, editor of The Gartman Letter, wrote on Tuesday. He noted that gold's popularity seems to be rising "in light of the current geopolitical risks that are raising its stature as the first among equals."

Gold spike on Tuesday and its ability to sustain the gains throughout the trading day suggested that the yellow metal has positive momentum on its side as investors wait to see what happens in Syria.

"I really wouldn't be a seller on a short intervention [in Syria] until we see much higher [gold prices] than this," Eric Zuccarelli, an independent commodities trader, said in an interview.

Reports emerged Monday afternoon that British warplanes were arriving at one of the country's airbases in Cyprus, which would be a launching point for forces into Syria should the U.K. decide to take action. Whether the U.S. will take action remains uncertain.

Investors often see gold as a safe-haven investment during periods of political or economic crisis.

Silver prices for September delivery added 64 cents to $24.65 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was falling 0.32% to $81.13. Silver, surging more than 2.5% on Tuesday, is up about 25% in August.

In central bank gold holdings for July, Turkey and Russia were notable gainers of reserves, while Mexico diminished its gold position, according to data released by the International Monetary Fund.

Russia added 6.3 metric tons to 1,002.8 tons and Turkey added 22.5 tons to 464 tons. Mexico dropped to 123.8 tons.

Gold mining stocks closed lower Tuesday, in line with major U.S. stock markets. Shares of Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM) shed 5.2%, while shares of Compania de Minas Buenaventura (BVN) slid 6.8%.

Barrick Gold (ABX) was among the most traded gold miners on Tuesday as shares slipped 3.5%.

Gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the heaviest traded of all exchange traded funds, gained 0.96% to $136.75 a share, while shares of iShares Gold Trust (IAU) added 0.92% to $13.74.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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