Inflation Data Buoy Gold

Benchmark contracts rise $2.30 at $668.20 an ounce.
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Metals prices were mixed Wednesday in New York after traders sorted through the latest bagful of economic news.

Benchmark contracts for gold bullion were recently tacking on $2.30 at $668.20 an ounce, while silver prices were rising 3 cents at $13.05 an ounce.

New data from the government showed prices consumers paid for goods and services rose by 0.2% in June, a bigger amount than Wall Street was expecting. That news helped boost precious metals prices, because some investors tend to buy gold and silver as a long-term hedge against inflation.

Also out were new figures showing continued weakness in the housing market, which weighed on copper prices. Copper is used for electrical wiring in new homes. Lately, futures were down 2 cents at $3.53 a pound.

The

streetTracks Gold Shares

(GLD) - Get Report

exchange-traded fund was gaining 0.5%, and the

iShares Silver Trust

(SLV) - Get Report

was rallying 0.7%. The

PowerShares DB Base Metals

(DBB) - Get Report

was off about 1%.

In the mining patch,

Rio Tinto

(RTP)

said its gold production jumped 36% in the second quarter compared with the same period a year earlier. Refined copper production was also higher, up 20% in the same timeframe.

The news helped lift Rio Tinto's stock 0.4%.

Among currencies, the pound was strengthening after news that the unemployment rate in the United Kingdom fell slightly, sending the pound to $2.049, up from $2.046 late Tuesday.

Elsewhere, euros were trading for $1.3775, down from $1.3782 a day earlier. The dollar was buying 122.15 yen vs. 122.31 yen previously.

As for the grains complex, soybean prices were ahead 1.2% at $8.71 a bushel. Wheat prices were rising 0.7% at $6.05 a bushel, and the cost of a corn futures contract was up 0.6% at $3.39 a bushel.