KITCO NEWS - Gold prices ended the U.S. day session down more than one percent on Thursday, as the U.S. dollar rose for a third straight day. Spot gold was down $18.40 at $1,224 an ounce while June Comex gold (GLD) settled the day down $21.80 at $1,226.50 an ounce. 'The gold bulls needed to achieve a close back at or above $1,241-1,243.70 in order to neutralize this weakness,' says Bill Baruch, chief market strategist for Chicago-based trading firm iiTrader.com. A rebound in the U.S. dollar index over the past two days was the main bearish element for the precious metals markets. Also weighing on the yellow metal was the equity market, which continued to extend gains, says Baruch. May silver (SI) fell 0.9 percent to settle at $16.173 an ounce, after reaching its highest since late October the previous day.