PRECIOUS METALS END MOSTLY LOWER

PRECIOUS METALS END MOSTLY LOWER

Precious metal prices were moderately lower Monday amid persistently bearish supply fundamentals.

June gold futures on Commodity Exchange Inc. closed down $2.70 an ounce to $371.30. Comex May delivery silver was up 1.5 cents to $4.91 an ounce.The market lacked new fundamental factors and the stronger dollar against other key currencies may have contributed to slightly weaker metal prices. The

dollar showed strength, but not to a degree that it alone could account for the steep drop in precious metal prices, analysts said.

"People are watching the dollar. They're watching it closely . . . I've seen a lot of people take long positions in the precious metals against currency. Going long gold and shorting the yen . . . " said John Noone, precious metals trader for the Julius Baer Co.

Mr. Noone warned, "It's dangerous going against the dollar." He said some traders saw recent low prices as a buying opportunity, though they remained cautious due to such wide swings and choppy trading in the markets.

Though the dollar remained a major factor in precious metals prices, the need for cash by long-time large holders of precious metals has pounded the market recently, he noted. "We're seeing no investment buying interest" said William O'Neill of Elders Futures Inc. "The dollar isn't doing much of anything, and the market is still looking at high physical stock levels."

However, Mr. O'Neill did note that the dollar is currently trading higher against most currencies, while high interest rates are also providing some underlying pressure to precious metals.

May silver dipped 2.7 cents to $4.89, more on a dearth of both physical or futures buying, rather than aggressive selling interest, traders said.

July platinum rebounded moderately from its early $6 loss, but nevertheless settled at $474.10, down $1.50.