Gold and silver prices rose Wednesday, but a sharply falling stock market pulled down shares of silver mining companies and left gold mining company stocks mixed in midday trading.

Major U.S. stock indices were uniformly down: the S&P 500 fell 40.24, or 3.4 percent, to 1,132.29, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 404.64, or 3.6 percent, to 10,835.13 and the Nasdaq Composite gave up 76.33, or 3.1 percent, to 2,405.96.

Gold for front month delivery on the CME Comex gained $34.60 to $1,774.60 per ounce, and silver rose 60 cents to $34.80.

Barrick Gold Corp. climbed 65 cents to $48.40 and Goldcorp Inc. (USA) added 20 cents to reach $48.32. But Newmont Mining Corp. fell 23 cents to $55.17 and Kinross Gold Corp. (USA) slipped 30 cents to $15.69.

Silver Wheaton Corp. retreated 61 cents to $34.81, Pan American Silver Corp. dropped 42 cents to $28.37 and Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp. gave up 86 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $23.78.

"In my opinion, silver, while a precious metal that has some safe-haven appeal, is not nearly the perceived safe-haven investment asset that is gold," Jim Wyckoff wrote in Kitco News. "When push comes to shove in tense and uncertain times, gold rises to the top. Also, silver has shown a stronger tendency than gold to be negatively influenced by the value of the U.S. dollar and by crude oil prices."