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Gold futures advance, supported by higher crude
Tensions mount between Iran and the U.K. over the detention of 15 sailors

NEW YORK — Gold futures rose Monday, underpinned by gains in crude-oil prices, as tension escalated over the seizure of 15 British navy personnel in the Persian Gulf by Iranian forces.

Gold for April delivery rose $3.10 at $660.40 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, gold futures closed down $6.90 at $657.30 an ounce.

“While the dollar has prompted some consolidation over the past two trading days, players will be keeping a very close eye on the current situation between the U.K. and Iran, with signs of a breakdown in talks or escalation in the current impasse potentially leading the metal to higher levels,” said James Moore, metals analyst at

Iranian forces seized 15 British sailors at gunpoint on Friday. British and Iraqi authorities say the sailors were in Iraqi waters when they were captured. U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for their release, warning Iran that he views the fate of the seamen as a “fundamental issue.” Iran, in turn, said the sailors could be charged with illegally entering Iranian waters.

The incident has exacerbated tension between Iran and Western nations, which have clashed over Iran’s nuclear development program. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council endorsed another package of sanctions against Iran for refusing to comply with international demands that it cease enriching uranium.

Crude-oil futures rose to their highest level in two weeks Monday, buoyed by mounting tensions between Iran and the U.K. over the detention of the sailors. Crude for May delivery was last up 59 cents at $62.87 a barrel in electronic trading after touching a high of $62.96, its highest level since March 9. See Futures Movers.

“Bullion is higher, helped by higher oil prices, which makes gold more attractive as a hedge against inflation,” said analysts at Action Economics.

The dollar rose against major currencies early Monday ahead of a report expected to show sales of U.S. new homes rose in February. The yen fell against high-yielding currencies as risk-seeking investors reestablished carry trade positions. The euro was last down 0.2% at $1.3261, while the dollar was up 0.3% at 118.36 yen.

Other metals prices were mixed. May silver gained 12.3 cents at $113.350 an ounce. April platinum rose $5.60 at $1,239.0 an ounce and May copper added 3.35 cents at $3.1025 a pound. June palladium fell $1.75 at $357.75 an ounce.

On the supply side, gold warehouse stocks fell 197 troy ounces to stand at 7.58 million troy ounces and copper supplies fell 386 short tons to stand at 36,115 short tons as of late Friday, according to Nymex data. Silver supplies rose 1.8 million troy ounces to hit 123 million troy ounces.

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