Gold Prices Rise as Central Banks Boost Reserves (Update 1)

Updated from 11:20 a.m. EST with settlement prices

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Gold prices rose slightly Wednesday as a central banks reported a rise in gold reserves.

Gold for December delivery rose $4.60 to settle at $1,728.20 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price traded as high as $1,732 and as low as $1,718.40 an ounce, while the spot price was adding $1.20, according to Kitco's gold index.

The International Monetary Fund reported Wednesday that countries boosted their gold reserves in October by some 40 tons, including Brazil's purchase of 17.2 tons.

"We received some positive IMF news on 40 tons of central bank gold buying including Brazil's large addition, however with Greece talks protracted, the dollar is firming here which is pressuring gold," Sonny Tahiliani, managing director at MacroMoves, wrote in an email.

Jobless claims for the week ended Nov. 17 fell 41,000 to 410,000 against the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 451,000. The weekly initial jobless claims report used to be seen as a barometer of sorts to help determine the health of the labor market and the U.S. economy as it pertained to the possibility of new quantitative easing measures from the Federal Reserve. Since the central bank passed its open-ended, mortgage-backed security purchasing program in September, the report has had less of an impact on the movement in gold prices.

Weeks of talks among eurozone finance ministers as to whether they would release emergency loans to prop up Greece -- Greece's parliament has already passed an austerity package -- have failed to produce an agreement. Many market analysts expected finance ministers to announce a package this week, but a failure to reach consensus has pushed back the decision to next Monday.

The lack of a solution left the euro effectively unchanged on Wednesday at $1.2824, up incrementally from the prior evening's close.

Silver prices for December delivery rose 42 cents to $33.35 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was adding 0.05% to $80.94.

Investors received no new fiscal cliff news from Congress and the president on Wednesday as legislators are expected to recess for the rest of the week and return to their districts to discuss the budget crisis with constituents. Capitol Hill leaders were also expected to continue closed-door negotiations through the weekend.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke Tuesday afternoon at the Economic Club of New York and warned that Congress' inability to avoid a full fiscal cliff -- a set of deep spending cuts and major tax cuts expiring that automatically would go into effect at the beginning of 2013 -- could thrust the U.S. economy back into recession.

Gold prices immediately sold off as Bernanke spoke. Investors appeared to realize that Monday's gains on optimistic fiscal cliff negotiations were still at risk of protracted disagreements between the two parties on a detailed solution.

Gold trades at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange will be closed Thursday to observe the Thanksgiving holiday.

Gold mining stocks were mostly higher Wednesday. Shares of NovaGold Resources ( NG) were rising 2.1%, and shares of Eldorado Gold ( EGO) were gaining 1.9%.

Among volume leaders, Kinross Gold ( KGC) was adding 1.8%, and Barrick Gold ( EGO) was up 0.76%.

Gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD) was inching higher by 0.08%, and iShares Gold Trust ( IAU) was tacking on 0.06%.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

>Contact by Email.