Gold Ends a Shade Lower

Kinross and Bema both sell off.
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Updated from 11:46 a.m.

Gold slipped Tuesday as Americans headed for the polls.

December-dated bullion contracts closed off 20 cents at $627.70 an ounce on the Comex division of the Nymex, having spent most of the session in positive territory.

The gold exchange-traded funds edged higher, with

iShares Comex Gold Trust

(IAU) - Get Report

and

streetTracks Gold Shares

(GLD) - Get Report

each up about 0.5%.

For most of the session, bullion was buoyed by a weaker dollar. The greenback was recently trading at 117.438 yen, down from 118.29 yen late Monday. It was also declining against the euro, which was changing hands at $1.2798, compared with $1.2723 a day ago.

"There's been a lot of unwinding of positions as well as the impact of the dollar selling off," says Nell Sloane, an analyst at NS Futures in Chicago. "It seems like the market has already factored a loss of seats by the GOP."

Also affecting market sentiment was news that de-hedging activity by gold miners slowed down during the third quarter, according to the Mitsui Hedge Book, a report published Monday by the London-based specialty consulting firm Virtual Metals. The data show that hedges fell by 2 million ounces to 41 million ounces during the period, compared with a drop of 5.1 million ounces during the second quarter.

De-hedging can involve producers entering the market to buy back existing short-position contracts, and this can help support prices.

Meanwhile, chart watchers see further consolidation in bullion prices before any major upside breakouts.

"We don't think it moves above the May '06 high

of $725.75 an ounce until our yearly momentum indicator moderates further," notes John Roque, senior vice president and technical analyst at Natexis Bleichroeder in New York. He adds that such an effect can be achieved either by a dip in prices or a sustained move sideways with the later being more likely.

Among the miners, RBC Capital Markets cut its rating on stock of

Kinross Gold

(KGC) - Get Report

to sector perform from outperform and also trimmed its price target to $16 a share from $19. Kinross announced Monday that it would purchase

Bema Gold

(BGO)

in a deal valued at $2.8 billion.

Shares of Kinross were down 1.7%, while those of Bema were off 2.6%.

Elsewhere, palladium and platinum producer

Stillwater Mining

(SWC)

reported fully diluted third quarter earnings of 7 cents a share, trouncing consensus forecasts of a penny a share. Production of palladium grew to 117,000 ounces in the three months through September, up from 99,000 a year before. Platinum output also grew to 34,000 ounces from 29,000 ounces.

Investors clearly liked the news, and the stock was moving higher by 0.6% in afternoon action.

In the non-ferrous metals segment, Comex copper prices moved up 2.85 cents to close at $3.3655 a pound.

In ferrous metals, Soleil downgraded shares of

Mittal Steel

(MT) - Get Report

to a hold rating from a buy. The stock was recently dipping about 1.3%.