The price of gold fell sharply Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated that no new economic stimulus measures were imminent.
Gold tends to fall when traders expect the value of the dollar to rise, which is a likely outcome if the Fed doesn't extend its bond-buying program or take other steps intended to keep interest rates extremely low.
With a stronger dollar more likely, gold fell. Gold futures fell $46.20 an ounce, the most since early April, to $1,588 an ounce.
On Friday, the exact opposite happened: A dismal jobs report caused a plunge on the stock market and raised expectations that the Fed would take more steps to stimulate the economy, weakening the dollar in the process. On that day gold jumped $58 to $1,622 an ounce.
The sharp moves up and down aren't likely to stop until there's a clear answer from the Fed about whether or not more monetary easing is on the way, said Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco Metals. That may take until June 20, when the Fed holds its next policy meeting, or even later.
Nadler said the rapidly waning and ebbing expectations of more Fed stimulus have been "buffeting" the gold market in recent weeks, causing sharp swings. "All it takes is Bernanke not saying something they expected him to say and the market crumbles."
Other metals also fell. July silver fell 3.3 percent, or 95.9 cents, to $28.529 per ounce.
July copper fell 0.85 cent to $3.3705 per pound. September palladium fell $7.05 to $625.75 an ounce and July platinum fell 2 percent, or $28.30, to $1,440.90 per ounce.
July contracts for wheat, corn and soybeans rose. Wheat jumped 17.5 cents, or nearly 3 percent, to $6.4175 a bushel. Soybeans rose 41.75 cents, or 3 percent, to $14.28 a bushel. Corn rose 7.75 cents to $5.94 a bushel.
In energy trading, crude oil fell 20 cents to finish at $84.82 per barrel. It rose as high as $87.03 per barrel earlier after China cut its benchmark lending rate for the first time in nearly four years to try to reverse a slowdown in economic growth.
Natural gas prices fell 14.7 cents, or 6.1 percent, to $2.274 per 1,000 cubic feet. Supplies have been building because of a boom in production and weak demand during the mild winter.
Heating oil fell 0.46 cent to end at $2.6671 per gallon and gasoline futures dropped 0.53 cent to $2.685 per gallon.
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