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Gold and silver close higher on Comex | Updated: 5:04:38 PM, Monday April 29, 2013

Gold prices have closed at their highest level in nearly two weeks, as investors drew confidence from data showing central banks’ purchases of the precious metal in March while brisk demand for gold coins, jewellery and bullion bars in Asia continued.

The most actively traded contract, for June delivery, on Thursday settled up $US38.30, or 2.7 per cent, at $US1,462.00 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Robust sales of physical gold and jewellery in Asian trading hubs continued to support gold’s rebound off the 26-month settlement low set April 15. Analysts at Standard Bank said their Gold Physical Flow Index has risen sharply due to ‘strong demand’ from Asia.

Sales of gold coins also climbed at the US Mint. The Mint has sold 201,000 ounces of gold coins so far this month, the highest monthly gold coin sales since December 2009.

‘It’s very clear, real demand,’ said Yu-Dee Chang, principal and chief trader with Ace Investment Strategists.

The world’s central banks stocked up on gold in March, monthly data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showed. The central banks of Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan all boosted their official reserve holdings.

While March data are incomplete, February totals show gold purchases from the so-called official sector picked up that month from January.

Gold traders closely follow the IMF data for shifts in central banks’ buying habits. The official sector has fluctuated between being a net buyer and seller on a monthly basis, and was last a net seller of gold in January 2011.

Silver futures also settled higher, taking their cues from gold. Silver for May delivery, the most active contract, rose $US1.307, or 5.7 per cent, to settle at $US24.140 a troy ounce. This was its highest settlement since April 12 and biggest percentage gain since January 3, 2012.

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