HOLLYWOOD, Fla. ( TheStreet ) -- Gold prices closed at a record high Wednesday as silver trumped a 31-year high.

Gold for April delivery settled up $6.50 to $1,437.70 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price hit a record intra-day high of $1,441 an ounce and hit a low of $1,428.20. The spot gold price was up 30 cents, according to Kitco's gold index, after settling Tuesday at its own record of $1,433 an ounce.

Silver prices hit a high of $34.97 Wednesday and the May contract settled up 40 cents to $34.83.

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The U.S. dollar index was down 0.46% to $76.64, which was lending support to the metals.

Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, intimated in his testimony to the House Financial Services Committee Tuesday and Wednesday that he isn't ruling out a third round of quantitative easing, despite the fact that oil prices are surging and the employment landscape is slowly improving. The ADP employment report for February showed that the private sector added 217,000 jobs.

The Fed released its Beige Book this afternoon, an anecdote for the U.S. economy, saying that the U.S. continues to grow at a "modest to moderate pace" despite persistent unemployment. Interest rates are expected to still remain low for an extended period of time. Gold prices came off from their highs on the positive growth outlook, but acknowledgments that inflation was lurking and that businesses were passing along some of the higher costs, kept a firm floor under prices.

Many investors had been wondering if oil's recent rise over $100 a barrel would prompt the Fed to tighten the money supply to cool inflation. Bernanke's adherence to low rates, however, was a green light for precious metal traders who bought gold and silver as protection against a weaker dollar.

Unrest and violence in the Middle East showed no sign of slowing down as government troops in Libya regained control over a city in the mostly rebel-held Eastern half of the country. The worries that unrest could spread to bigger oil producers like Iran and Saudi Arabia were also keeping gold's safe haven identity alive.

Iran reportedly cracked down on anti-government protesters leading investors to turn to gold as a safe place to store their wealth.

"Every day there's something new, it seems like, that makes the case even stronger for why silver and gold really belong in, at least as a part in, everyone's portfolio," says Coeur d'Alene Mines ( CDE) chief financial officer Mitch Krebs, "especially with continued turmoil in the Middle East."

Now that gold is in record high territory, overcoming its ominous triple top, just how high can the metal go?

"I think between $1,500-$1,700 per ounce," says Ron Thiessen, CEO of Northern Dynasty ( NAK). "I see gold stabilizing in this area as long as we don't have too much volatility. If the Middle East started to get overly volatile, you could quite easily see $2,000."

Jeb Handwerger, editor of GoldStockTrades.com, has been saying from the first day of unrest in North Africa and the Middle East that gold could hit $1,600 on safe haven buying.

Buying gold at these levels, however, could be problematic. The metal has popped almost 2% in the past week. "It's hard to chase gold today if you're not involved," argues Scott Redler, chief strategic officer at T3Live.com. "Usually a successful breakout will give you a successful retest." If gold prices see a profit-taking pullback, that might be the time to buy.

The SPDR Gold Shares ( GLD) shed almost 8 tons since last Wednesday on profit taking despite gold's record breaking rally.

Gold mining stocks, a risky but profitable way to buy gold, were trading mixed. Barrick Gold ( ABX) was 0.28% lower at $53.62 while Newmont Mining ( NEM) was down 2.92% at $54.45. Other large gold stocks Randgold Resources ( GOLD) and AngloGold Ashanti ( AU) were trading at $81.51 and $49.60, respectively.


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-- Written by Alix Steel in New York.

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