Precious metals ETFs soared in Thursday’s premarket after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke indicated the central bank plans to keep interest rates low even if the job market improves.

The release of the minutes of the Fed’s June meeting on Wednesday afternoon showed several officials supported the idea of tapering bond purchases.

However, after a speech yesterday Bernanke reassured markets that easy monetary policy would remain in place for some time regardless of any substantial drop in the unemployment rate, TheStreet reports. In late 2012, the Fed said it planned to keep interest rates at historic lows until the jobless rate falls below 6.5%, as long as inflation remains in check.

“There will not be an automatic increase in interest rate when unemployment hits 6.5%,” Bernanke said, adding that inflation remains low and the job market needs more improvement, according to the story.

SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) was up 2.5% before Thursday’s opening bell as gold futures nearly touched $1,300 an ounce at one point. The iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV) jumped 3.8%.

“We presume that the strong reaction of the precious metal markets is also related to the fact that investors believe that the Fed’s actions and attitude do not differ significantly from those of the ECB or BoJ,” said Commerzbank analysts in a MarketWatch report. “This is likely to prompt investors to increasingly seek a ‘safe haven’ and a currency that is independent of the central banks, thus again luring in buyers of gold.”

Gold ETFs were bouncing Thursday after losing more than 20% in the second quarter. Bullion-backed ETFs listed around the globe also saw record quarterly outflows. [Gold ETFs Suffer in Q2]

Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own GLD and SLV.

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