Gold Prices End Lower

Gold price futures in New York settled down Friday as investors were forced to sell gold to cover losses and reconsolidate positions ahead of option expirations.
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) --

Gold prices

Friday settled under $1,180 as investors opted for cash amid global uncertainty, options expiration and a struggling equity market.

Gold for June delivery ended down $12.50 to $1,176.10 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price Friday has traded as high as $1,187.60 and as low as $1,166. The

U.S. dollar index

was slipping 0.76% to $85.36 while

the euro rallied

0.91% to $1.25 against the dollar. The spot gold price Friday was down over $5, according to Kitco's gold index, as bargain hunters tentatively bought the physical metal.

Gold prices have lost 4.5% or $56 this week as global turmoil forced investors to sell gold, one of the only assets to return a recent profit, in order to raise money. The futures market ended down double digits versus the phsyical spot price as traders were forced to sell some gold positions ahead of Tuesday's options expirations and to cover equity losses.

The Strongest Metal: Gold

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Germany has approved the $1 trillion bailout package for European Union nations, but the news did little to calm investor jitters. Worries that inflation and budget cuts across Europe would crimp any kind of growth were stifling markets as no one wanted to be heavily invested in the short term.

As investors dumped gold, they sought the perceived safety of U.S Treasuries. The yield on U.S. 10-year bonds fell to 3.2% as investors piled in. Also contributing to lower gold prices is Friday's options expiration, which typically results in a slight selloff for gold.

Analysts are looking at $1,150 as a key resistance area as bargain-hunters en masse stay on the sidelines. "Below that there's really not a lot of support until you get down to the $1,100 level," says David Morgan, founder of "The insiders have been out of the market for a very long time. We've been in a distribution pattern for a very long time." Uncertainty could crimp buying and weigh on gold prices over the short term.

Adding to market woes are fears that

China will slow its spending

. China said its economy grew 11.9% in the first quarter and since then the government has been taking steps to curb growth. The central bank raised the amount banks need to hold in their reserves in order take money out of circulation to combat inflation. The less money in circulation, the less people and companies will spend.

China is the biggest lender to the U.S. as well as one of the largest consumers of metals, especially silver and copper, which are used in construction. A prolonged slowdown in China would reverberate worldwide as the country is credited with jump-starting the global economic recovery.

Silver prices

were up 6 cents to $17.65 while copper was rebounding 11 cents to $3.06.

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Gold mining stocks, a more risky but profitable way to

invest in gold

, were mixed.

Barrick Gold


was down over 1% at $40.51 while

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Report

was slightly lower $51.65. Other large mining companies

Kinross Gold

(KGC) - Get Report




were trading at $16.48 and $40.31, respectively.

Shares of

AngloGold Ashanti

(AU) - Get Report

were lower by 2.44% to $38.36 while

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold

(FCX) - Get Report

was popping over 3% to $65.71 after the company said it would beat 2010 production targets for its copper mine in Congo. Mining stocks could see some long-term downside if Australia's steep mining tax hike threatens to spread to other countries such as China and Brazil.

Shares of the gold exchange-traded fund,

SPDR Gold Trust

(GLD) - Get Report

, were falling slightly to $115.20.


Written by Alix Steel in New York


Alix joined TV in February 2007. Previously, she held positions in film and theater production, management, and legal administration. Alix has a degree in communications and theater from Northwestern University.