) --

Gold prices

were recovering Thursday after Wednesday's swoon resulted in the worst single-session loss in three years.

Gold for April delivery was rising $6.40 to $1,717.70 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The

gold price

traded as high as $1,726.40 and as low as $1,695.10 an ounce, while the spot price was gaining $19.80, according to Kitco's gold index.

Silver prices

were gaining 39 cents to $35.04 an ounce while the

U.S. dollar index

was falling 0.05% at $78.779.

Gold market analysts spent much of the morning taking stock of Wednesday's selloff.

"The massacre was attributed to a host of different reasons -- from month end book squaring, to the positive PMI numbers to Bernanke's suggestion that ultra loose monetary policies may soon come to an end," read a report from bullion dealer GoldCore. "None of these reasons would justify the scale of the massive sell offs seen in gold and silver yesterday. Gold and silver markets saw massive sell orders from large institutional sources -- as only large institutions selling could have caused a price falls of the magnitude seen yesterday. There were highly speculative unsourced rumors of an Asian fund selling gold and rumors of a single bullion sale of 31 tonnes or some 1 million ounces by an unnamed seller."

Regardless of the triggers, investors were examining gold in a new light on Thursday.

"Yesterday's turbulence will take some digestion and absorption," said George Gero, precious metals strategist with RBC Wealth Management. "Central Bankers usually do not favor gold, tend to talk it down, so today's jobless claims figures were once again helpful. Less quantitative easing-3 talk, and so gold buyers are becoming cautious."

Vote: Where will gold prices finish in 2012?

"Precious metals opened with gains this morning as market participants were hard at work trying to repair at least part of the substantial damage that was incurred on Wednesday," said Jon Nadler, senior metals analyst with Kitco Metals. "A knee-jerk reaction was to be expected after such a rout, but there is still apprehension in the pits related to margin calls, a change in open interest, and the upcoming 'slow' seasonal period in gold (extending up to May/June)."

Mixed U.S. economic data was also keeping prices in check. Initial jobless claims fell 2,000 to 351,000 during the week ended Feb. 25 from a revised 353,000 in the previous week, according to a Labor Department report. Claims data met analysts' expectations according to Thomson Reuters. The four-week moving average fell 5,500 to 354,000 from a revised 359,500.

The Institute for Supply Management reported that its manufacturing index dropped to 52.4 in February. While the data showed that manufacturing is still expanding, it missed expectations for a reading of 54.5, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. The index came in at 54.1 in the prior month.

The Commerce Department's reading on construction spending dropped 0.1% in January for the first time in six months. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected it to tick 1% higher, adding to a 1.5% rise the prior month.

Personal incomes rose 0.3% to $37.4 billion in January according to a Commerce Department report, falling just short of expectations of a 0.4% rise according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Personal spending rose 0.2% to $23.2 billion for the month, again falling short of expectations of a 0.3% increase.

Mining stocks

were modestly higher Thursday. Among the biggest gainers were

Jaguar Mining

(JAG) - Get Report

, up 2.9% to $6.34, and



, adding 2% to $49.50.

First Majestic Silver

(AG) - Get Report

, was gaining 2% to $20.87, and


(FCX) - Get Report

was up 1.9% to $43.37.

-- Written by Ross Tucker in New York.

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