) --

Gold prices jumped Wednesday afternoon after the minutes of the

Federal Reserve's

latest policy meeting showed growing willingness to provide more monetary accommodation.

"Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery," the



Gold for December delivery was gaining $9.90 to $1,652.80 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The

gold price traded as high as $1,649.70 and as low as $1,636.30 an ounce, while the spot price was up $6.70, according to Kitco's gold index.

Before the FOMC minutes on Wednesday, gold settled down $2.40 at $1,640.50 an ounce.

Silver prices for September delivery settled up 13 cents at $29.56 an ounce, while the

U.S. dollar index was down 0.24% to $81.71.

"I think expectations of further monetary easing -- not only by the Fed but the European Central Bank and maybe some other central banks -- is underpinning gold at the moment, and I think a growing number of observers are anticipating possible easing by the Fed this autumn," said Jeffrey Nichols, senior economic adviser at Rosland Capital, ahead of the release of the Fed minutes.

Traders are also keeping their sights on the action in oil as uncertainty of supply can serve to prop gold up as a safe haven. Nichols also said there is concern in the gold markets about unrest among mining workers in South Africa.

Though the upheaval near

a Lonmin mine

in the country caused a spike in platinum prices last week, Nichols thinks possible sympathy walkouts among other miners who work in the country's gold mines could have an impact on the international gold trade.

Physical demand in India and China has remained soft through the summer. The ruppee price of gold is at all-time highs, which has caused price sensitivity for the short run, according to Nichols.

China buying could jump soon for a few reasons: Signs from the country's July consumer price index report showed slowing inflation, which sparked chatter that China could put a

fresh round of easing

on the table; also, investors are anticipating the launch of

TST Recommends

Chinese gold ETFs

on the Shanghai stock exchange, which would allow more individuals in the country to invest in the yellow metal.

Gold mining stocks were mostly higher Wednesday.

Eldorado Gold

(EGO) - Get Report

was rising 1.6%, while

NovaGold Resources

(NG) - Get Report

was up 1.1%.

Among other mining stocks,

Gold Fields

(GFI) - Get Report

was dipping about 1%, while

Barrick Gold



Kinross Gold

(KGC) - Get Report

were up 0.3% and 0.71%, respectively.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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