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Updated from 11:25 a.m. ET with settlement prices.



) --

Gold prices

popped Monday after durable-goods orders suggested that the U.S. manufacturing sector was softening.

Gold for June delivery at the COMEX division of the CME jumped $14.90 to $1,423.70 an ounce. The

gold price

traded as high as $1,433.60 and as low as $1,411.50 an ounce, while the spot price was adding $17.60, according to Kitco's gold index.

"If we see signs of a weaker economy it tends to be positive for gold, because it changes expectations for monetary policy," said Jeffrey Nichols, senior economic adviser at Rosland Capital. "So today's durable goods orders being a big disappointment has some... thinking that the

Federal Reserve

isn't going to tighten sooner."

The Census Bureau reported Wednesday that

durable-goods orders dropped 5.7% in March

after they had risen 4.3% the prior month. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting orders to decline 2.8%.

Last month's Fed policy-making meeting revealed a growing number of members were considering scaling back the central bank's current monetary stimulus programs, but a weak March jobs report, softer housing data and vacillating manufacturing indicators likely have forced central bankers to reconsider their hope to curb quantitative easing.

"Durable goods is a volatile report," Robert Brusca, chief economist of Fact & Opinion Economics, wrote in a note. "However, over three months only 14% of the durable goods sectors representing 27% of sales show shipments that are accelerating."


for May delivery rose 2 cents to $22.83 an ounce, while the

U.S. dollar index

was dipping 0.08% to $82.95.

Silver prices suffered in 2012 from a setback in global economic growth as industrial demand softened,

according to the Silver Institute's 2013 world silver survey

that came out Wednesday.

The survey found that silver's industrial fabrication dropped to 465.9 million ounces from 487.8 million ounces in 2011, and that overall silver fabrication demand dropped to 846.8 million ounces in 2012 from 907.1 million ounces a year earlier.

While silver has seen about a 13% drop since April 12, when gold started its two-session collapse, some believe silver could be poised for a recovery in the second half of this year.

"We could very easily see a month or two of volatility as nerves calm and the market consolidates from the slump that we saw in the last couple of weeks, but I think with that under our belt and as soon as we get some more positive news coming through we could see a lift," Neil Meader, head of precious metals research and forecasts at Thomson Reuters GFMS, said during a phone interview from London.

Gold mining stocks closed mostly higher on Wednesday. Shares of

Gold Fields


soared 9.8%, and shares of

Randgold Resources


popped 8.1%.

Among volume leaders,

Barrick Gold


climbed 7.5%. The company reported Wednesday that its first-quarter profit dropped 18% to $847 million, or 85 cents a share on revenue of $3.44 billion.

Gold ETF

SPDR Gold Trust


closed up 1.1% to $138.37 a share, while

iShares Gold Trust


increased 1.1% to $13.91 a share.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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