Gold Prices Flatten as Weekend Ukraine Referendum Keeps Traders in Holding Pattern

Updated from 9:18 a.m. ET with settlement prices

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Gold prices closed unchanged Friday as investors shifted to the sidelines ahead of the weekend referendum on eastern Ukraine autonomy.

Gold for June delivery at the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped a dime to $1,287.60 an ounce. The gold price traded as high as $1,294.50 and as low as $1,285.50 an ounce, while the spot price settled up 30 cents, or 0.02%.

"I think the next movement will rely not only on Europe but the referendum on Ukraine going on over the weekend," Eugen Weinberg, commodities analyst at Commerzbank AG, said in a phone interview from Frankfurt. "We are likely to see some relaxation on the market if this referendum goes well."

The June contract for Gold futures traded in a relatively tight range this week, reaching a low of $1,284.80 and a high of $1,315.80 an ounce.

The European Central Bank's commitment on Thursday to leave its main interest rates unchanged and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's predictable testimonies to Congress on Wednesday and Thursday left the yellow metal seesawing for the week without a breakdown in technical price support -- levels that cause a steep selloff.

The two outliers, however, during the past two weeks included a 1.5% pop on Friday and a 1.5% drop on Wednesday, when President Vladimir Putin's decision to pull back Russian troops from the eastern border of Ukraine sank gold prices.

Many gold analysts have said that the precious metal has remained resilient the past few weeks as fundamentals remain negative for the asset, such as the Fed's commitment to continue to scale back economic stimulus.

But a volatile stock market and the geopolitical uncertainties (which Yellen said on Wednesday could hurt the global economy, should situations escalate) of Ukraine have hurt short-side speculators.

Silver prices for July delivery dipped 2 cents to $19.12 an ounce, while the U.S. dollar index was jumping 0.54% to $79.87.

Shares of SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), the largest gold-backed ETF by market capitalization, closed off 7 cents, or 0.06%, at $124.10.

>>Watch: Silver Volatility Hits Decade-Long Low - Here's How to Trade It

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-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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