Gold and silver futures remained firmly in negative territory on Thursday afternoon amid strength in the U.S. dollar and a broad-based sell-off in the commodities complex.

COMEX gold for February delivery – the most actively-traded contract – finished lower by $21.10, or 1.2%, at $1,696.80 per ounce.  The yellow metal reached an intra-day low of $1,690.70 this morning before recouping a small portion of its decline.

COMEX silver futures – per the March contract – fared substantially worse, as they tumbled $1.42, or 4.2%, to $32.36 per ounce.  Gold’s sister precious metal reached its lowest level of the day, at $32.28, earlier this afternoon.

The sell-off in precious metals put considerable pressure on gold and silver stocks, as the Philadelphia Gold & Silver Index (XAU) fell by 3.0% to 162.82.  The decline put the XAU on track for its worst day since a 4.7% plunge on November 14th.

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Notable stocks in the XAU moving lower included Coeur d’Alene Mines (CDE), Eldorado Gold (EGO), and Pan American Silver (PAAS).  Shares of CDE dropped by 3.5% to $23.09, EGO by 3.0% to $13.35, and PAAS by 5.2% to $18.71.

Precious metals suffered from profit-taking and a rebound in the U.S. dollar after the Federal Reserve largely met expectations by raising its quantitative easing program by $45 billion per month.  The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) rebounded from a small decline this morning to move into positive territory by 0.2% at 79.935.

Among other metals, platinum futures retreated by 1.8% to $1,616.10 per ounce while palladium dropped 1.3% to $691.80 per ounce.  As for cyclical commodities, crude oil futures slipped by 1..0% to $85.89 per barrel and copper by 1.5% to $3.66 per pound.

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