Gold Prices Charge Ahead

Contracts for August delivery rise $8.40 at $663.50 an ounce.
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Gold and silver prices were rallying Monday as traders grew concerned over rising tensions in the Middle East and looked for safe-haven investments.

Contracts for August delivery of gold were adding $8.40 at $663.50 an ounce, while September silver contracts were gaining 15 cents at $12.91 an ounce in recent New York futures market action.

The exchange-traded funds that hold stores of the metals, the

iShares Silver Trust

(SLV) - Get Report

and the

streetTracks Gold Shares

(GLD) - Get Report

, were rising 0.4% and 0.8%, respectively.

A force of 140,000 Turkish troops was said to be massing on the border with the Kurdish part of Iraq, according to an Iraqi official quoted in various press reports. Kurdish separatists have been launching sporadic attacks on Turkey in an effort to gain independence, and the military buildup is seen as part of a larger effort to counter the violence. Minor counter-raids by Turkey have been made in the past.

Although it seems highly unlikely that Turkey would make a major incursion into Iraq while U.S. forces remain on deployment, lately the chances of a near-term retreat by America seem to have increased with the defection of several Republicans away from supporting President Bush's approach to the war.

In the precious-metals patch, UBS dinged shares of

Eldorado Gold

(EGO) - Get Report

to a neutral rating from an outperform. Still, the stock was rallying 2.3%, buoyed by the firm price of gold.

As for base metals, prices for benchmark copper contracts were tacking on 6 cents at $3.66 a pound on worries that a walkout by workers at a mine in Chile may cause a supply shortage.

Elsewhere, Robert Baird raised its rating on shares of mining-equipment manufacturer


(TEX) - Get Report

to outperform from neutral, and boosted the stock price target to $107 a share from $78 previously.

The stock was recently rising 5.3% at about $89.