Gold Dips Ahead of the Fed

Meanwhile, steel stocks get slammed by Nucor's warning.
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Updated from 12:51 p.m. EST

Gold closed down a touch Tuesday ahead of the

Federal Reserve Open Market Committee

policy meeting.

February-dated bullion contracts closed lower by $3.10 at $631.70 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The exchange-traded funds that hold the metal,

streetTracks Gold Shares

(GLD) - Get Report

and

iShares Comex Gold Trust

(IAU) - Get Report

, were both also modestly lower, off 0.3% recently.

As was widely predicted the Fed did not make any major policy or interest rate changes when it released its statement at 2.15 pm EST.

"Despite acknowledging the weakness on the growth front, the Fed stands by its assessment that

moderate growth will continue," writes T.J. Marta, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, although he says the overall statement reflects a marginally more dovish stance.

Comex floor trading was over by the time the announcement was made, but in after-hours activity futures prices were recently rallying $1.30 at 633 an ounce.

Gold chart watchers remain relatively bullish. "The market has a slightly positive tilt," writes Nell Sloane, an analyst at Chicago-based NS Futures. She sees technical support for gold kicking in at around $631, followed by $626 if the first level is breached. Overhead resistance is spied at about $638.

In the official sector, the European Central Bank announced it sold gold and receivables worth 71 million euros, or slightly over four-and-a-half tons, last week.

In the foreign-exchange markets, the dollar was mixed. One dollar was buying 116.925 yen, down a hair from 116.99 yen late Monday. The euro was buying $1.3276 up from $1.3239 previously.

Among the miners, the

Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF

(GDX) - Get Report

was losing 1.2%. Also slipping were shares of

Eldorado Gold

(EGO) - Get Report

, off 1.7% following production guidance from management. Investors were clearly not thrilled.

In base metals, Comex March copper contracts closed 3.9 cents lower at $3.0945 a pound.

In other metals, steel stocks were getting hit after

Nucor

(NUE) - Get Report

warned fourth-quarter earnings will miss expectations due to pricing issues. Nucor was recently down 8.5% while

US Steel

(X) - Get Report

was off 6% and

Commercial Metals

(CMC) - Get Report

was down 5.4% in sympathy.

Elsewhere, RBC Capital Markets upgraded shares of uranium producer

Cameco

(CCJ) - Get Report

to a status of top pick from outperform. After a down start shares recovered and were trading up 0.4% recently.

The Canadian bank also downgraded shares of aluminum maker

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

to underperform from sector perform. The stock was off about 1.5% in recent trading.

On the London Metal Exchange, tin remains near its high. The price for one ton delivered in three months moved down to $10,750, from a close of $11,100 seen Monday.

In the energy markets, prices for crude oil were moving down despite speculation that OPEC may agree to cut production when they meet Thursday. In other news the Energy Information Administration upped its oil price forecast for 2010 by 20% to about $60 a barrel, Reuters reports.

Spot prices for crude oil closed off 20 cents at $61.02 a barrel on the Nymex.

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

was up 1.2% in recent trading but energy shares were mostly negative.

Anadarko Petroleum

(APC) - Get Report

was recently down 4.5%, leading decliners in the Amex Oil & Gas Index, which was off 0.3%.