after Bernanke

Gold and silver futures, which in mid-day trading pared their losses, headed further south as Ben Bernanke’s press conference proceeded this afternoon.

The yellow metal fell to an intra-day low of $1,590.50 per ounce this morning, subsequently bounced back to as high as $1,622.70, but later fell back toward the $1,600 level.

Silver followed a similar path, tumbling to $27.63 per ounce early in the day, rebounding to $28.52, but afterward sliding back below $28.00 per ounce.

As for gold and silver shares, the Philadelphia Gold & Silver Index (XAU) tracked the metals, as well as the broader equity markets. The XAU dropped to 163.41, subsequently rose to 169.77, but fell back to 165.61 this afternoon.

Among the various XAU component companies, two of the largest decliners were Kinross Gold (KGC) and Silver Wheaton (SLW). KGC slid by 3.3% to $8.88, and SLW by 1.8% to $28.16 per share.

At the Fed’s press conference, “Helicopter Ben” largely reiterated what was discussed in the Fed statement – that it is prepared to take further action if the economic outlook continues to worsen, but that at the present time it will only be extending Operation Twist through the end of the year.

In addition to Bernanke’s comments, the Federal Reserve released its updated set of projections for the U.S. economy. Full-year 2012 GDP growth was lowered to 1.9-2.4% from its previous estimate of 2.4%-2.9%, while the unemployment rate was raised to 8.0-8.2% from the prior forecast of 7.8-8.0%.