On Thursday, gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for February delivery, the most active contract, increased $8.00 to settle at $1,701.80 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for March gained 16 cents to close at $33.11.

Both precious metals climbed higher, as the European Central Bank held its benchmark rate at 0.75 percent, an all-time low. The central bank also downgraded its outlook for the region, as it confirmed that the gross domestic product of the 17 countries on the euro currency declined 0.1 percent in the third quarter. In 2013, the ECB forecast the gross domestic product in a range of contracting 0.9 percent to expanding by only 0.3 percent.

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“Economic weakness in the euro zone is expected to extend into next year,” ECB President Mario Draghi told a news conference after the central bank’s monthly policy meeting, according to Reuters. He tried to remain upbeat, adding, “Later in 2013, economic activity should gradually recover as global demand strengthens and our accommodative monetary policy stance and significantly improved financial market confidence work their way through the economy.”

In afternoon trading, the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) increased 0.30 percent, while the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV) gained 0.45 percent. Gold miners (NYSEARCA:GDX) such as Yamana Gold (NYSE:AUY) and Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) increased 0.25 percent and 0.70 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL) and Silver Standard Resources (NASDAQ:SSRI) gained 0.55 percent and 1.20 percent, respectively.

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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS