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Sector Snap: Gold and silver miners fall

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of mining companies edged down Wednesday on worries that gold and silver prices will be lower than previously expected this year.

Last year was the worst for gold prices in more than a decade and that trend could be continuing into 2014. In afternoon trading Wednesday, gold prices fell $5.20 to $1,224.40 per ounce.

Moody's Investors Service said it now expects gold prices to average $1,100 per ounce this year, down from its previously projected $1,200 per ounce. The ratings service also cut its price prediction for silver by $2 to $18 per ounce.

Moody's said the reduced predictions reflect the significant drop in gold and silver spot prices, along with expectations of economic improvements such as overall global growth, the winding down of government stimulus programs and subdued inflation.

Tough economic conditions and volatile stock markets tend to prompt people to put their money in more stable investments such as gold, but when economic conditions improve they tend to shift back toward more risky investments like stocks.

Here's a look at how select mining companies were faring in afternoon trading amid mixed trading in broader markets:

— Barrick Gold Corp.: Down 44 cents, or 2 percent, to $17.83.

— Gold Fields Ltd.: Down 11 cents, or 3 percent, to $3.09.

— AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.: Down 25 cents, or 2 percent, to $11.64.

— Goldcorp Inc.: Down 22 cents to $22.19.

— Newmont Mining Corp.: Down 44 cents, or 2 percent, to $23.51.