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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gold prices hold steady as Wall Street rallies

NEW YORK (AP) -- Gold prices held steady Friday, as a rally in stocks kept demand for the safe-haven asset in check.

Other commodities, like oil and grains, surged on the day's upbeat economic data.

Gold for June delivery slipped 60 cents to settle at $914.90 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices, however, rose 3 percent for the week, erasing the previous week's losses. The precious metal is up 3.5 percent for the year.

The dollar was weaker against the euro and the British pound on Friday, which offered gold some support. Gold, which is used as a hedge against inflation, tends to benefit when the dollar falls.

But spirited buying on Wall Street dampened some of gold's gains. Stocks surged on better-than-expected jobs data and confirmation that big banks don't need as much capital as feared.

The government said late Thursday that 10 of the 19 largest U.S. banks that underwent its "stress test" will need to raise about $75 billion as a backstop against future losses. That figure was not as high as some had anticipated. Investors also welcomed a report showing that employers cut fewer jobs last month than analysts had forecast.

The news Friday was further validation that the economy's slide is moderating. The market has rallied more than 25 percent since early March on improving economic data, which has spurred hopes that the recession could end sooner than previously thought.

As the economy improves and demand for goods and services picks up, so will prices. This notion has helped boost economic-sensitive commodities like oil and grains. But gold prices have struggled to climb much higher as investors move into stocks and out of other assets for fear of missing out on the market's two-month rally.

Other metals were also lower Friday. July silver slipped 7.5 cents to $13.9550 an ounce, while July copper futures fell 1.9 cents to $2.1455 a pound.

Oil prices surged on the Nymex to their highest close of the year.

Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose $1.92 to settle at $58.63 a barrel.

Gasoline for June delivery rose 4 cents to $1.7055 a gallon - its highest close since November - and heating oil gained 3.32 cents to $1.5184 a gallon.

Grain prices moved higher on the Chicago Board of Trade.

July wheat futures jumped 20.75 cents to $5.91 a bushel, while corn for July delivery added 9 cents to $4.21 a bushel.

July soybeans rose 9.5 cents to $11.1150 a bushel.

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