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Price Data Spur Gold Buying

August contracts rise $4.60 to $663.90 an ounce.

An increase in a key inflation measure had investors scrambling to buy hard assets and sent precious metals rallying Thursday in New York.

Gold contracts expiring in August were rising $4.60 at $663.90 an ounce in recent action. Contracts for July delivery of silver were adding 24 cents at $13.36 an ounce.

Helping the metals was a report from the Commerce Department on the economy. The government said that gross domestic product grew at only a 0.6% annual pace in the first three months of the year, but the chain deflator, which measures prices of goods and services, jumped 4%, more than double the rate in the fourth quarter.

"The

Federal Reserve

definitely has an inflation problem," says T.J. Marta, a fixed-income strategist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

Indeed, the minutes of the last Fed meeting, released during the prior session, indicated that policymakers still have the threat of rising prices on their radar. Even though officials are closely monitoring the slowdown in housing, their primary concern appears to remains inflation.

After the data were released, traders wanting a hedge against the wealth-depleting effect of inflation moved to buy bullion, figuring the metals will maintain their real value relative to paper currency.

Elsewhere, there was more evidence of some investors losing their love for

streetTracks Gold Shares

(GLD) - Get SPDR Gold Trust Report

, the largest gold exchange-traded fund. New figures show bullion holdings by the ETF dropped nine tons Wednesday to 464 tons. Gold Shares inventories, which are held in London vaults, reached their peak of 501 tons on April 17 before reversing over the past few weeks.

Metal inventories at

iShares Comex Gold Trust

(IAU) - Get iShares Gold Trust Report

, the other U.S. gold bullion ETF, remained steady at about 46 tons.

Turning to the technical analysis side of things, one chart-watcher sees the possibility of a near-term run-up for

TheStreet Recommends

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Newmont Goldcorp Corporation (NEM) Report

.

"Newmont appears to be on the verge of breaking out," writes Clive Maund, a Chile-based technical analyst. He suggests "aggressive" traders might want to buy call options with a strike price at $40 a share to benefit from the climb he expects.

The stock was recently selling for $40.29, a 2.2% gain.

Other shares on the move in the mining patch included

Kinross Gold

(KGC) - Get Kinross Gold Corporation Report

, up 3.6%, and

Meridian Gold

(MDG)

, better by 2.9%.

As for base metals, prices for benchmark copper contracts were gaining 7 cents at $3.38 a pound, with falling inventories on the London Metal Exchange providing the impetus for the boost.

Diversified mining giant

BHP

(BHP) - Get BHP Group Ltd Sponsored ADR Report

announced Marius Kloppers, a 14-year veteran of the company and currently president of its nonferrous materials division, will succeed outgoing CEO Chip Goodyear at the beginning of October.

Shares of BHP were recently moving ahead by 1.2%.