CHICAGO, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose slightly Monday on the tension in Iraq. The most active gold contract for August delivery rose 1.8 U.S. dollars, or 0.14 percent, to settle at 1,318.4 dollars per ounce.
Investors were watching the escalating violence in Iraq, where militants over the weekend captured a chunk of new territory in the country's west. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to discuss combating the Islamist militants gaining power in the western part of Iraq.
But good U.S. economic data released Monday kept gold prices capped.
The seasonally adjusted Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) registered 57.5 in June, up from 56.4 in May, which indicated the strongest upturn in overall business conditions since May 2010, financial data firm Markit reported.
Existing-home sales heated up in May, up 4.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million, marking the highest monthly percentage gain since August 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors. The latest housing figure topped market expectations and indicated that sales activity is rebounding after a lackluster first quarter.
In China, preliminary reading of HSBC's China manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index jumped to 50.8 from a final reading of 49.4 in May, hitting a seven-month high.
Gold stood above 1,300 dollars on crisis in Iraq last week. But analysts doubt whether gold's gain above 1,300 dollars can last, citing currently sluggish physical demand for the precious metal as well as decline in demand from exchange-traded funds.
The HSBC predicted gold price at 1,292 dollars per ounce at the end of this year.
Silver for July delivery lost 3.3 cents, or 0.16 percent, to close at 20.916 dollars per ounce. Platinum for July delivery fell 0.7 dollars, or 0.05 percent, to close at 1,456.6 dollars per ounce.