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Jul 24, 4:03 PM EDT

Gold prices sink to their lowest in a month following signs of economic growth in US and China

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Gold slipped to its lowest level in a month on Thursday as signs of an improving economy lured traders into other investments.

The gold contract for August delivery sank $13.90, or 1.1 percent, to settle at $1,290.80 an ounce. That's the lowest settlement price since June 18.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week dropped to the lowest level since February 2006, almost two years before the Great Recession started. In a separate report out Thursday, a gauge of manufacturing in China reached an 18-month high.

Better economic reports tend to drag down gold prices. An improving economy makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates next year, weakening the appeal of gold and other precious metals as investments.

In other trading, silver for September sank 58 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $20.42 an ounce.

News of stronger Chinese manufacturing gave copper prices a boost. China is the world's biggest buyer of the industrial metal, which is widely used in manufacturing and construction. Copper for September climbed 6 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $3.27 a pound.

Other industrial metals fell. Platinum for October sank $13 to $1,473.70 an ounce, while palladium for September lost $3.35 to $870.95.

Grains and crops were mixed. Wheat slipped 2 cents to $5.29 a bushel, and corn lost 1 cent to $3.70 a bushel. Soybeans rose 8 cents to $10.85 a bushel.

Crude oil fell $1.05 to close at $102.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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