Gold prices were sliding Friday as investor demand for the metal continued to decline.

Futures were falling $11.10 to $868.20 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract has traded as low as $865 and as high as $875.70 so far during the session. Silver prices were down 30 cents at $11.96 an ounce, and copper was unchanged at $2.18 a pound.

Better-than-expected U.S. bank earnings and pressure that the International Monetary Fund sell its gold led to the downturn in prices. Philip Klapwijk, chairman of GMFS, expects gold to dip below $850 fairly soon. "Upside momentum ran out of steam, but long-term investors will perhaps see this as a buying opportunity."

As the Middle East, Asia and India, which is gearing up for its gold-buying festival later in April, re-enter the market at more attractive levels, gold prices will stabilize, he says. " This bread and butter type of buying ... is a safety net and arrests the price during these falls." Increased physical demand is "reactive ... rather than proactive," meaning it is not a catalyst for higher gold prices, but will prevent futures from falling even further.

In gold stocks, Newmont Mining ( NEM) was falling 3.5% to $38.57, and Barrick Gold ( ABX) was slipping almost 2% to $27.58. Yamana Gold ( AUY) was down 3% to $7.52.

Agnico-Eagle Mines ( AEM) was giving up 3.1% to $44.64, and the Gold Shares ( GLD) exchange-traded fund was trading relatively flat at $85.31.
Alix joined TV in February 2007. Previously, she held positions in film and theater production, management, and legal administration. Alix has a degree in communications and theater from Northwestern University.

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