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NEW YORK, April 10 (Reuters) -- COMEX gold jumped on
Wednesday, recovering from early profit taking after
top-tier South African producer AngloGold Ltd. said it
was "aggressively" running down its hedge book.

Though the company gave no details, saying only that it
was taking advantage of market conditions, June gold
accelerated a mild morning bounce back above the $300
an ounce level around which it has consolidated recent
gains all week. The active contract ended up $3, or 1
percent, at $302.50, trading from $298.10 to $302.90.
Estimated volume was a moderate 31,000 contracts.

"`That last thrust up to $302.90 was all on the back of that.
They came out, and I guess it was the way they phrased
it," said a floor broker. Spot gold was quoted at $301.00/50,
up from the close Tuesday at $298.10/60. The afternoon
London fix was $298.

The trend toward reduced selling by gold companies has
been bullish for gold this year. The tone was set by
U.S.-based Newmont Mining, after it bought Australia's
Normandy Mining, became the world's largest producer,
and pledged to unwind Normandy's large hedge book
and avoid all hedging. Producers hedge by selling their
output forward to lock in prices and protect themselves
against falls in the market. But it can work against their
interests because heavy hedging activity can prevent
the price of gold from rising.

"We haven't changed our hedging policy per se, but
market conditions at the moment dictate that we are
running down our hedge book and we have been for a
little while," AngloGold Financial Director Jonathan Best
told Reuters. AngloGold closed 1.7 million ounces in its
hedge book in the last quarter of 2001, leaving it with a
hedge book of 14.6 million ounces.

Best said the company was reducing its book because
it was more bullish on the gold price and because U.S.
interest rates are low, raising the cost of carrying short
gold positions.

"We did move up and saw some technical buying once
we broke over $300.50 on June and yesterday's high,
which was around $300.80," said Donald Eckert, global
bullion risk manager at JP Morgan Chase. Other dealers
saw stop-loss buying all the way up.

Gold was also supported by firming oil prices and
underlying interest in the precious metals as portfolio
protection in case a broader war breaks out in the Middle

June gold rose to $308 a week ago, its highest since
two-year highs were reached in February. But gains this
week were tougher won because speculators were
already loaded up, holding a net 37,000 contracts (115
tonnes) last week.

Israel said it would press ahead with its 12-day-old
military offensive in the West Bank following a suicide
bombing that killed eight Israelis on a bus in Haifa on
Wednesday. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon said
Wednesday that the United States should not put
pressure on Israel to stop its military offensive in the
West Bank. The United States has demanded that
Israel withdraw its forces as Secretary of State Colin
Powell visits angry Arab leaders on his way to Israel
later this week to try to broker a cease-fire.

COMEX May silver shot up 7.0 cents to close at $4.628
an ounce, having moved from $4.53 to $4.645. Spot
silver closed at $4.62/63, up from $4.54/56 late Tuesday.
It fixed at $4.555.

"Silver just basically came along for the ride," said
Leonard Kaplan, president of Prospector Asset