Factory orders came in a bit better than expected, but the Census Bureau said they still fell 2% in January. Economists had been looking for a 2.2% decline. Gold prices popped back above the session's flat-line on Wednesday as the decline in the factory orders report led investors to believe the manufacturing sector faces more economic headwinds.

"This down means there's going to be less production," said Miguel Perez-Santalla, vice president of business development for Bullion Vault.

Looking ahead, gold traders may be keeping a close eye on Friday's non-farm payrolls report for February.

The recent gloom for gold may have hidden shine.

Doubleline Capital CEO Jeff Gundlach said Wednesday in a presentation that the Fed would not slow down its quantitative easing programs any time soon and said now would be a "reasonably good entry point for gold."

Platinum for April delivery dipped $5.90 to $1,579.80 an ounce, and palladium for June delivery added $5.45 to $740.05 an ounce, a day after the precious metals popped on positive news for auto sales outlook.

"We had some better news coming out of China, and the auto market more generally, stronger car sales and, of course, platinum and palladium are key ingredients in the catalytic converters which clean the emissions on cars," Will Rhind, managing director of ETF Securities U.S., said in an interview. "The auto industry was one of the worst affected industries by the financial crisis in 2008, and slowly but surely we've picked ourselves up from that position."

Rhind said that as the global economy continues to recover, so will car sales. This could be positive for platinum and palladium prices.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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