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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Spot gold prices and silver, the "poor man's gold," were leading gains in the spot precious metals market early afternoon Tuesday as stocks continued to feel the weight of economic recovery concerns driven by ongoing euro-zone debt contagion fears and exacerbated by disappointing Case-Shiller U.S. home price readings.

The losses for stocks were mild in light of better-than-expected November consumer confidence data and Chicago-area manufacturing activity.

The gains in gold prices were occurring also as Chinese regulators gave Beijing-based mutual fund Lion Fund Management the green light to invest in exchange-traded gold funds outside of China, the

Wall Street Journal

reported. This type of approval is the first of its kind in China according to the report, and should be an appealing development for Chinese investors hungry for gold to protect against inflation and amid low bank savings rates at home.

The news comes as the International Monetary Fund says it has reduced the pace of its gold sales by 40% in October from the month before as central banks become increasingly interested in keeping gold as insurance against a shaky global economy.

The gains in commodities hit a threshold with U.S. dollar strength; the U.S. dollar index was up 0.4% to $81.13 in early afternoon trading.

New York spot gold prices were rising by $21.50, or 1.6% to $1,388.80, according to Kitco's spot price index.

Spot silver prices

were adding $1.09, or 4%, to $28.22.

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Spot platinum prices were higher by $16, or 1%, to $1,661 an ounce as its sister metal continued making gains.

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New York spot palladium prices were up $9, or 1.3%, to $699 an ounce.

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Precious metal mining stocks and ETFs -- which offer another form of exposure to precious metals -- were generally trading in positive territory Tuesday.

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Barrick Gold


was gaining 3% to $51.86 and



was tacking on 2.2% to $46.05.

Silver Wheaton


was adding 3.7% to $37.15.

SPDR Gold Trust


was up 1.5% to $135.57.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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