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Gold Settles Unchanged as Investors Take Breather From Weeklong Fall

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Gold prices closed little changed on Tuesday as investors took a breather following more than a week of tumbling prices triggered by some de-escalation in Crimea and a more hawkish Federal Reserve.

Gold for April delivery at the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was effectively unchanged at $1,311.40 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,318 and as low as $1,306 an ounce, while the spot price was adding $2.90, or 0.22%.

"Gold has gone away from being a buy-and-hold long term inflation hedge to being a trader's vehicle," Oliver Pursche, co-portfolio manager at GMG Defensive Beta Fund, said in an interview.

Gold has pulled back more than 4.5% since March 14, when the yellow metal closed at a year-to-date high.

Must Read: Tuesday, March 25: Today in Gold and Silver

A fundamental reason gold dipped since then was due to a strengthening U.S. dollar, which last week benefitted from Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen's comment that the central bank would begin to raise interest rates about six months after it concludes its economic stimulus program. Such a move boosts the value of the dollar as a requisite to winding down easy money policies.

Before mid-March, gold witnessed a 14.5% rise that benefitted from the unexpected crisis in Ukraine. Investors bid up the price of the precious metal when Russia entered the situation on hopes that Crimea would split and join the country. Traders rewarded the yellow metal with upward momentum based on a hedge against crisis.

While the Crimea crisis wasn't the sole driver of gold prices, it did serve as an example of why investors should consider allotting some of their portfolio to the yellow metal as a hedge against surprise crises, said Juan Carlos Artigas, the World Gold Council's director of U.S. research.

"Gold is a very useful general hedge," Artigas said Tuesday in a phone interview from New York. "Russia and Ukraine is a better way to consider risk management."

His comments come as the World Gold Council released a report that examined why gold acts as a hedge for investors' portfolios.

Silver prices for May delivery slid 9 cents to settle at $19.95 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was flat at $79.94.

Gold miners were mostly higher on Tuesday. Shares of AngloGold Ashanti (AU - Get Report) jumped 3.4%, and Newmont Mining (NEM - Get Report) gained 0.54%.

Gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) was up 0.17%, while iShares Gold Trust (IAU) was increasing 0.14%.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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