Mining companies shares mixed on price outlook

NEW YORK -- Shares of gold and silver producers were mixed Wednesday amid a broad market decline, as several analysts predicted prices for precious metals will continue to increase over the next year.

The price of gold rose 10.6 percent in the third quarter as the slower global economy raised investor hopes that more countries would take steps to boost economic growth.

Investors often by gold as a hedge against inflation. Gold hit a 2012 closing high of $1,796.50 per ounce on Oct. 4. Although prices have fallen since, several analysts expect gold to hit or top $1,800 an ounce in 2013.

Silver often trades in tandem with gold. The price rose 25 percent in the third quarter and has been trading in a range between $34 per ounce to $35 per ounce in October.

Higher gold and silver prices can translate into better profits for companies that mine the metals.

Sterne Agee & Leach analyst Michael Dudas said he expects gold to average between $1,750 per ounce and $1,800 per ounce over the next 18 months, with the possibility of hitting $2,000 per ounce on the high side and $1,400 an ounce on the lower side.

Dudas said silver will range in the mid-$30s per ounce with the potential to hit an all-time high.

"At current levels, we believe well-capitalized producers appear underpriced relative to our pricing and volume expectations," Dudas told clients in a research note.

In afternoon trading, shares of Newmont Mining Corp. fell 14 cents to $54.36, Barrick Gold Corp. dropped 27 cents to $40.22 and Gold Resource Corp. rose 2 cents to $19.99. Kinross Gold Corp. rose 1 cents to $10.43 and Goldcorp Inc. rose 15 cents to $44.52.

Among silver producers, shares of Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp. rose 33 cents to $28.77 and Pan American Silver Corp. fell 12 cents to $21.07.