NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Gold was struggling Thursday as bargain-hunting failed to support prices.

Gold for April delivery was rising slightly to $1,108.40 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have traded as high as $1,111.70 and as low as $1,100.50. The U.S. dollar index was slipping 0.16% to $80.31. Gold's spot price was down just 30 cents according to Kitco's gold index.

Lackluster sentiment was keeping gold in a tight trading range Thursday. Analysts are hoping that lower prices will bring out bargain hunters around the $1,090 area, but worries of global rate hikes were keeping gold in check. Inflation in China rose 2.7% in February, a 1.2% point increase from January. If inflation becomes a more pressing concern than reviving struggling economies, then countries could respond with rate hikes. Such measures would end the flow of free money and put pressure on gold prices for the long term.

A disappointing weekly jobless claims report also tempered risk appetite for commodities. Initial claims fell more than 6,000 to 462,000 last week, which was not as much as anticipated.

The euro and European sovereign debt fears were also providing short-term direction for gold prices. Greece and Portugal are implementing austerity measures to combat their rising deficits to avoid default and asking for a bailout from the European Union.

" After yesterday's falloff to two week lows ... gold is continuing under selling pressure this morning," says Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco.com. "Bullish sentiment appears to be dissipating quite a bit here ... we need to maintain the $1,090-$1,095 area and prove that there is some resilient support in there, otherwise we are looking at $1,050-$1,070 zone."

Silver prices were up 14 cents to $17.16 while copper was risng 1 cent at $3.38.

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Mining stocks, a more leveraged way to invest in gold, were struggling. Barrick Gold ( ABX) was rising 0.83% to $39.07 while Newmont Mining ( NEM) was flat at $50.38. Other large cap miners Kinross Gold ( KGC) and Goldcorp ( GG) were trading at $17.80 and $39.82, respectively. Kinross reportedly will acquire Underworld Resources in a friendly bid. The stock was slipping over 1%.

Shares of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold ( FCX) were dropping 0.35% to $79.80, and Yamana Gold ( AUY) was up 0.70% to $10.05.

The popular physically backed ETF, SPDR Gold Shares ( GLD), was flat at $108.48. The ETF decreased another 0.61 tons Wednesday as investors traded out of the precious metal.

-- Written by Alix Steel in New York.

Alix joined TheStreet.com 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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