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Gold.

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    International commodities report Brought to you by AAP
    --------------------------------------------------------------------- In London, nickel at the London Metal Exchange succumbed to a fierce bout of long liquidation Monday that sent prices plummeting to a six-week low at $6,560 a metric ton while zinc continued Friday's decline before hitting support at a five-month low of $760/ton.
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    Stock increases for both metals helped instigate the early selling, and the downward momentum gathered pace as sell stops were activated at key support levels. Given the weak technical closes, dealers said further losses cannot be ruled out Tuesday.
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    Zinc stocks in LME warehouses jumped by 3,100 tons Monday while nickel stocks rose 786 tons.
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    Although further downside beckons short term, it is likely that this will be stifled by consumer buying on any price dips. Consumer interest was said to have been prevalent over the last few trading sessions.
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    Aluminum, although buoyed by a stock fall of 2,350 tons, also came under pressure from heavy long liquidation Monday and was forced down to a fresh four-and-a-half-month low at $1,341/ton.
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    Dealers said the weak close and potential for further liquidation suggests a fall down to $1,330/ton is in the cards Tuesday.
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    Likewise, copper broke through Friday's low before good scale-down buying stemmed the losses and helped pull prices back above $1,590/ton for the close, a move that should help support the market Tuesday.
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    Tin fell through support at $4,150/ton to a low of $4,125/ton while lead managed to attract like consumer buying and drive up to $466/ton before giving back most of the gains for the close.
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    In New York, Comex June gold futures settled $5.10 per ounce higher Monday at $316 per ounce after a weaker US dollar against other currencies and stagnant equity markets prompted a flurry of speculative buying.
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    Pre-placed automatic stop-loss buy orders also helped fuel the rise, although steady dealer long-liquidation into the strength helped keep the ascent fairly orderly.
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    Providing further impetus for the buyers has been the renewed descent into violence across the Middle East following another suicide bombing in Israel and a car bomb explosion in Lebanon.
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    Dealers said that with the dollar expected to remain under pressure against other currencies, further gains in gold can be expected throughout the rest of the week.
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    The initial upside target was deemed to be the June 2000 high of $324.90 followed by the March 2000 high around $335.
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    July silver followed gold higher and breached resistance in the $4.69-$4.70 area on its way to seven-week highs of $4.79 per ounce.
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    Nymex July platinum settled up $6.50 at $544.20, while June palladium was up $8.30 at $382.80 as the buoyant overall tone in the precious metals complex spurred on further speculative buying amid the prevailing thin conditions.
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    However, palladium is plagued with the potentially imminent arrival of Russian-origin material, and speculative long liquidation into platinum's strength is seen as possibly limiting July's upside momentum.
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    In New York, crude oil at the New York Mercantile Exchange finished modestly higher Monday, as petroleum products futures strengthened on reports of a refinery problem and rising Gulf Coast cash prices.
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    Front-month June crude oil futures, which expire Tuesday, ended up 15 cents at $28.33 a barrel, while the July crude futures contract gained 8 cents to close at $27.23 a barrel.
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    June heating oil rose 39 points to close at 68.99 cents a gallon after rising as high as 69.70 cents a gallon at one point. June gasoline futures climbed to an intraday high of 82.00 cents a gallon before closing at 80.64 cents a gallon, up 26 points on the day.
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    Crude futures rose earlier partly because of strength in gasoline and heating oil futures.
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    Analysts and traders said the rally in petroleum products futures was sparked by strong Gulf Coast cash prices and news that the fluid catalytic cracking unit at Hovensa's giant refinery in St Croix, US Virgin Islands, may have been delayed because of heavy vibrations.
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    There was little else in the way of market moving news.
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    Meanwhile, traders were awaiting weekly inventory data due out Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute.
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    The data, covering the week ended May 17, is expected to show a decline of about 3 million barrels in crude stocks and a build of 500,000 barrels in gasoline stocks and a build of 1 million barrels in distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel.
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