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Gold Gets a Hand From Data

July contracts rise $5.10 at $672.10 an ounce.

Precious metals prices were surging Friday as weak retail sales figures from the U.S. government undermined the dollar's value against the euro.

July-dated gold contracts were jumping $5.10 at $672.10 an ounce in New York. Silver prices were rising also, up 16 cents at $13.30 an ounce.

The exchange-traded funds that hold the metals,

streetTracks Gold Shares

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iShares Silver Trust

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, were rising 0.6% and 1.3%, respectively.

The gains in gold and silver came after the Commerce Department posted an unexpected drop in retail sales for April. The report followed by a day the monthly results from chain stores themselves. Many posted declines for the month, as had been anticipated, but the scope of the weakness was a bit of a surprise.

"The lackluster sales figures provide further evidence that the U.S. economy will grow at a significantly slower rate than that of the 12-country 'Euroland' area," says Joe Brusuelas, chief U.S. economist at IDEAglobal in New York.

Foreign exchange dealers seemed to agree and marked up the euro. One euro was selling for $1.3522, up from $1.3487 late Thursday. The dollar was buying 119.887 yen, up slightly from 119.86 yen previously.

In the precious metals patch, Vancouver-based


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posted first-quarter earnings of $124.9 million, up from $92.4 million a year ago. However, because of a big increase in the number of shares outstanding since the 2006 period, earnings per share showed a decline to 18 cents from 24 cents.

The consensus was expecting earnings of 19 cents. Goldcorp said cash costs grew to $181 per ounce of gold during the period, but would decline to $150 for the year. Goldcorp shares were recently rising 1.7%.

As for base metals, copper contracts were gaining 4 cents at $3.60 a pound on the Comex.

Mining stocks were stronger.

BHP Billiton

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was up 1.9% at $52.41, and

Rio Tinto


was better by 2.8% at $288.78.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold

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was advancing 2.5% to $72.78.