NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Spot gold prices and spot silver were retreating with the rest of the precious metals complex as investors balked at bearish yellow metal indicators that included a rate hike by the South Korean central bank Tuesday and concerns that China was next.

"I think you're just seeing money off the table across the asset markets," said BullionVault.com's head of research Adrian Ash. "If you look at what happened at the open on the S&P and you look at what happened to the commodities, I think the Korean rate move ... short-term, that kind of noise says there's a change of trend in monetary policy" that is bearish for gold.

But in the long run, what matters to U.S. and European investors isn't what the China renminbi price of gold does. "It's what their own currency is going to do against hard assets," Ash pointed out. A weak U.S. dollar is expected to continue with the recent introduction of QE2 and persisting near-zero interest rates.

Furthermore, even with Tuesday's Korea rate hike and a China rate hike, cash savers there still aren't being rewarded, Ash added. "They're a long way from doing that" resulting in the mitigation of the opportunity cost of owning gold.

New York spot gold prices were falling $20.20, or 1.5%, to $1,340.30 in Tuesday afternoon trading.

New York spot silver prices were losing 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $25.47.
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New York spot platinum prices were slumping by $30, or 1.8%, to $1,641 an ounce, while its sister metal was losing ground.


New York spot palladium prices were declining by 31 cents, or 4.6%, to $639 an ounce.

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Precious metals mining stocks ended firmly in the red at the market close Tuesday. These mining stocks offer another form of exposure to precious metals.

Silver Wheaton ( SLW) tumbled by 3.9% to $31.69 and Hecla Mining ( HL - Get Report) dropped 5.7% to $7.84. Stillwater Mining ( SWC) slumped by 7.1% to $17.75, while North American Palladium ( PAL) fell 4.2% to $4.99. Barrick Gold ( ABX) lost 2.6% to $48.85.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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