On Tuesday, gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for June delivery decreased $7.70 to settle at $1,672 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures jumped 17 cents to close at $33.27. However, both precious metals sold off sharply after the latest Federal Reserve statement.

The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Open Market Committee released the attached minutes of the Committee meeting in March. The Fed said it sees no need to add more easing unless growth slows. The statement said, “A couple of members indicated that the initiation of additional stimulus could become necessary if the economy lost momentum or if inflation seemed likely to remain below its mandate-consistent rate of 2 percent over the medium run.”

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Although unemployment still remains elevated, the Fed noted that “labor market conditions continued to improve and the unemployment rate declined further.” The statement goes on to say that overall consumer price inflation was relatively subdued in recent months and the increases in energy prices are expected to flatten out in the second half of 2012.

In afternoon trading, the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) fell 2.18 percent, while the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) declined 1.37 percent. Gold miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) such as Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) and Goldcorp Inc. (NYSE:GG) dropped 3.4 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively. Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW) decreased 2.9 percent, while First Majestic (NYSE:AG) and Endeavour Silver (NYSE:EXK) both fell more than 3 percent.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) announced new coverage changes in the gold sector today. The bank maintained a Buy rating on Barrick Gold, but downgraded Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) from Buy to Neutral with a price target of $56. Citigroup also initiated coverage on Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC) with a Buy rating and Goldcorp with a Neutral.

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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric McWhinnie at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com