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(Kitco News) - Gold prices are hovering near unchanged levels in early U.S. trading Wednesday, as the market pauses after hitting a 3.5-month high overnight. Silver prices are a bit weaker but scored a five-week high overnight. Gold and silver bulls have the technical momentum to suggest more price gains in the near term. February Comex gold was last up $0.70 an ounce at $1,316.70. March Comex silver was last down $0.056 at $17.15 an ounce.

World stock markets were mostly firmer overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward higher openings when the New York day session begins. The U.S. indexes are at or near their record highs. The ability of gold and silver prices to rally while the competing asset class of equities is also rising, is impressive from the metals bulls’ perspective.

Tensions in Iran are still on the front burner of the market place. Demonstrators in that country are demanding an overthrow of the ruling government. Several protesters have been killed and the situation is not improving, according to reports. This matter is supporting the safe-haven gold and silver markets, as well as the crude oil market.

North Korea is also in the news. The rogue nation made an overture to South Korea for negotiations, but is also maintaining its plans to become a nuclear power. Reports said North Korea could be ready to launch another ballistic missile.

The U.S. economic highlight Wednesday will be the release of the minutes of the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting held on Dec. 12-13. Traders will parse the statement for clues on the direction and timing of U.S. monetary policy in 2018.

The key outside markets on Wednesday morning find the U.S. dollar index higher on a corrective bounce from recent strong selling pressure. Meantime, Nymex crude oil prices are higher and hit a 2.5-year high near $61.00 a barrel. The Iran demonstrations are supporting the oil market.

U.S. economic data due for release Wednesday includes the weekly MBA mortgage applications survey, the weekly Goldman Sachs and Johnson Redbook retail sales reports, the ISM New York report on business, construction spending, the ISM manufacturing report on business, domestic auto industry sales, and the FOMC minutes from the last meeting.

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

Technically, February gold futures bulls have the overall near-term technical advantage. Prices are in a steep three-week-old uptrend on the daily bar chart. Bulls’ next upside technical objective is pushing and closing prices above chart resistance at $1,350.00. Bears' next near-term downside price breakout objective is closing prices below solid technical support at $1,280.00. First support is seen at today’s low of $1,313.20 and then at this week’s low of $1,304.60. First resistance is seen at today’s high of $1,323.00 and then at $1,325.00. Wyckoff’s Market Rating: 6.0

Live 24 hours silver chart [ Kitco Inc. ]

March silver bulls have the slight overall near-term technical advantage. Prices are in a steep three-week-old uptrend on the daily bar chart. The next upside price breakout objective is closing futures prices above solid technical resistance at the October high of $17.59 an ounce. The next downside price breakout objective for the bears is closing prices below solid support at the October low of $16.435. First resistance is seen at today’s high of $17.265 and then at $17.37. Next support is seen at $17.00 and then at last Friday’s low of $16.865. Wyckoff's Market Rating: 5.5.


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