- Gold futures remained near a four-month high on Monday, after data showed that manufacturing activity in the U.S. expanded at a faster rate than expected in February.

Prices of the precious metal rallied as the chance of military conflict in Ukraine mounted following Russia''s seizing of control of the Crimean peninsula.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery rose to a session high of $1,351.60 a troy ounce, the most since October 30.

Gold prices last traded at $1,349.60 an ounce during U.S. morning hours, up 2.1%, or $28.00. Gold futures settled down 0.77%, or $10.20, on Friday to end at $1,321.60 an ounce.

Prices were likely to find support at $1,319.30 a troy ounce, the low from February 28 and resistance at $1,359.40, the high from October 30.

Meanwhile, silver for May delivery rallied 1.55%, or $0.33 cents, to trade at $21.57 a troy ounce. The May contract ended Friday’s session down 0.52%, or $0.11 cents, to settle at $21.24 an ounce.

Silver futures were likely to find support at $21.02 a troy ounce, the low from February 27 and resistance at $22.06, the high from February 26.

Gold prices remained higher after the Institute for Supply Management said its index of purchasing managers rose to 53.2 last month from a reading of 51.3 in January. Analysts had expected the manufacturing PMI to increase to 52.0 in February.

The report came after the Commerce Department said that personal spending rose 0.4% in January, above expectations for an increase of 0.1%. The data also showed personal income rose 0.3%, beating expectations for a 0.2% increase, after a flat reading in December.

Meanwhile, heightened tensions in Ukraine underpinned safe haven demand.

Geopolitical tensions mounted as Russian forces reportedly are now in complete control of the Crimean peninsula after Russia''s parliament authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force in Ukraine.

U.S. President Barack Obama and the leaders of the U.K. and Germany expressed "grave concern" on Sunday over Russia''s intrusion into Ukraine, which they called a breach of international law and a threat to international peace and security.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who will visit Kiev on Tuesday, said the U.S. was considering imposing economic sanctions against Russia, in an effort to isolate the country and punish it for its actions.

Elsewhere on the Comex, copper futures for May delivery declined 0.45% to trade at $3.173 a pound.

Comex copper prices extended losses from last week as lingering concerns over the health of China’s economy and a weakening Chinese Yuan dampened sentiment.

Data released over the weekend showed that China’s official manufacturing PMI fell to an eight-month low of 50.2 in February from 50.5 in January.

The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

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