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Gold Jumps Following Eastern Ukraine Separatist Vote for Sovereignty

Updated from 9:20 a.m ET with settlement prices

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Gold prices jumped on Monday after pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine approved sovereignty in a referendum.

The vote came Sunday, but reports said international election monitors remained absent, making it unlikely that all parties involved would accept legitimacy of the referendum.

"Ukraine is underpinning the market at the moment and keeping people from being too short," David Govett, head of precious metals at Marex Spectron, said in a phone interview from London.

Gold for June delivery at the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $8.20 to settle at $1,295.80 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,304.50 and as low as $1,277.70 an ounce, while the spot price was rising $6.10, or 0.47%.

"After a weekend when seemingly Eastern Ukraine has shown it would like to be part of Russia, or certainly something other than Ukraine, the unrest there will no doubt continue to rumble on, keeping a floor under the market," Govett wrote Monday in a note to clients.

While uncertainty in Ukraine is lifting gold prices -- which often rise amid geopolitical crises due to the asset's appeal as a hedge -- analysts don't think many other foreseen influences in the near term will push the yellow metal substantially higher.

Several economic indicators printing later this week that may trigger some buying and selling in the gold trade include retail sales on Tuesday and the consumer price index on Thursday. Should retail sales come in better than anticipated, gold could dip. Consensus among economists expects inflation in April to rise 0.3%, a jump that would push gold higher. Typically, gold value benefits from currency inflation.

Institutions increased their speculative long bets for gold last week to 102,895 futures and options, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission reported Friday. Short positions by managers fell to 28,320.

Silver prices for July delivery added 42 cents to $19.54 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was increasing 0.05% to $79.90.

Shares of SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the largest gold-backed ETF by market cap, were climbing 0.56% to $124.80.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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