Precious metals remained in negative territory on Wednesday afternoon following the release of the Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book. A recap of U.S. economic activity across the Fed’s 12 districts, the Beige Book noted that the U.S. economy “expanded at a measured pace in recent weeks.”

Gold futures, which this morning tumbled to as low as $1,707.90 per ounce, stabilized near the $1,720 level this afternoon. Silver futures hit an intra-day low of $33.00 but later recouped more than half of their losses to trade down by 1.0% at $33.73 per ounce.

In contrast to the metals, shares of most gold and silver stocks staged an impressive comeback alongside the broader equity markets. The Philadelphia Gold & Silver Index (XAU), which slid 2.7% to 165.64 early in today’s session, later bounced back into positive territory by 0.6% at 171.14.

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Notable XAU components moving higher this afternoon included AngloGold Ashanti (AU), Yamana Gold (AUY), and Silver Wheaton (SLW). Shares of AU advanced by 1.5% to $30.63, AUY by 1.3% to $19.57, and SLW by 0.4% to $36.79.

With regard to the Beige Book, it noted that “Weaker conditions in New York were attributed to widespread disruptions at the end of October and into November caused by Hurricane Sandy. Philadelphia reported general weakness that was exacerbated by the hurricane. However, in the Boston and Richmond Districts, the storm’s effects were mostly limited. Contacts in a number of Districts expressed concern and uncertainty about the federal budget, especially the fiscal cliff.”

The report went on to say that “Among key sectors, consumer spending grew at a moderate pace in most Districts, while manufacturing weakened, on balance. Seven of the twelve Districts reported either slowing or outright contraction in manufacturing, and two others gave mixed reports… In banking and financial services, higher demand for home mortgage loans and auto loans increased consumer lending in some Districts, although small business loan demand was generally described as weaker to only moderately higher.”

The Beige Book is available in its entirety at the Federal Reserve’s site:

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