The decline in gold prices on Tuesday reached the lowest level in nearly two weeks, extending their losing streak to four sessions as investors locked in some profits recently.

Gold for June delivery (GCM11 1,429, -11.00, -0.76%) ended up $7.40, or 0.5%, at $1424.90 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The precious metal touched a high of $1,431.70 an ounce early in the day, then dove to a slight loss and an intraday low of $1,413.10 an ounce before rebounding.

Adam Klopfenstein, a senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock in Chicago, said many of the common themes pushing up gold still apply, such as uncertainty about the Middle East and the impact of crippled nuclear plants in Japan.

“Today’s move lower was rejected: There are more reasons to be a buyer than a seller,” Klopfenstein said. “Fresh money likes to come in on any signs of weakness.”

On Tuesday, gold futures logged a fourth-straight losing session to finish at their lowest price in almost two weeks.

“Gold prices rose as euro-zone debt concerns and continued fighting in Libya supported the safe-haven allure of the bullion,” economists at ICICI Bank said in a daily market report.

“However, expectations of a [European Central Bank] rate hike in its meeting on April 7 capped the gains, as higher interest rates increase the cost of holding gold,” they said.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its rating Tuesday on Portugal to BBB-minus from BBB, one notch above junk status. The ratings agency also cut Greece’s credit rating to BB-minus from BB-plus.

In Libya, violence continued as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi waged counterattacks, reversing some recent gains by rebels.

The dollar edged higher against a basket of currencies as the greenback advanced to its highest level against Japan’s yen (USDYEN 84.0800, +0.0400, +0.0476%) since that country’s March 11 earthquake. The dollar fell against the euro (EURUSD 1.4238, +0.0003, +0.0211%) , however, after a European Central Bank board member’s comments suggested the ECB could raise rates earlier than some expected.

“We’re seeing the dollar weakening-strong gold trade today,” said Jay Feuerstein, chief executive officer for asset manager 2100 Xenon Group.

Silver for May delivery (SIK11 3,784, -15.60, -0.41%) added 52 cents, or 1.4%, to $37.51 an ounce.

June palladium (PAM11 774.55, +7.15, +0.93%) rose $5.15, or 0.7%, to $758.10 an ounce, and July platinum (PLN11 1,770, -6.30, -0.35%) rallied $30, or 1.7%, to $1,774.10 an ounce.

May copper (HGK11 425.60, -4.90, -1.14%) slipped 7 cents, or 1.7%, to $4.274 a pound.


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