Silver prices edged lower on Tuesday, as investors awaited the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting on Wednesday.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, silver futures for March delivery traded at USD20.05 a troy ounce during European morning trade, down 0.25%. Comex silver prices traded in a range between USD20.01 a troy ounce and USD20.27 a troy ounce.

The March contract ended Monday’s session 0.53% lower at USD20.10 a troy ounce. Futures were likely to find support at USD19.43 a troy ounce, the low from January 2 and resistance at USD20.35, the high from January 6.

Market players looked ahead to key U.S. economic data later in the week to gauge if the U.S. economy will be strong enough to allow the Federal Reserve to continue withdrawing support through 2014.

The U.S. Institute of Supply Management said its non-manufacturing purchasing managers'' index fell to 53.0 in December from 53.9 in November. Analysts were expecting the index to increase to 54.5. The ISM said the new orders index contracted for the first time since July 2009, falling to 49.4.

Investors were turning their attention to Wednesday’s minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting and Friday’s U.S. jobs report for December for further indications on the possible timing of reductions in Fed stimulus.

The U.S. central bank will reduce its bond-buying program by USD10 billion a month starting in January. Some market participants believe the Fed will likely taper its bond purchases by USD10 billion in each of its next seven meetings before ending the program in December 2014, amid indications of an improving U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, gold futures for February delivery traded at USD1,238.70 a troy ounce, up 0.05%. Gold prices held in a tight range between USD1,236.30 a troy ounce and USD1,244.60 a troy ounce.

The February contract climbed to USD1,247.70 a troy ounce on Monday, the highest since December 16, before trimming gains to settle at USD1,238.00 a troy ounce, down 0.05%.

Elsewhere on the Comex, copper futures for March delivery dipped 0.25% to trade at USD3.351 a pound. Prices of the industrial metal tumbled to USD3.330 a pound on Monday, the lowest since December 24.

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