Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped Wednesday on a stronger dollar, closing at its lowest level since July 8. The most active gold contract for February delivery dropped 3.6 dollars, or 0.29 percent, to settle at 1,237.9 dollars per ounce. Economic data released Wednesday were mixed, but generally negative to gold. A gauge of consumer sentiment rose to a final reading of 75.1 in November from 73.2 in October. U.S. Conference Board reported Wednesday that the leading economic index for the U.S. rose 0.2 percent in October to 97.5. The applications for unemployment benefits fell for the sixth time in seven weeks, with claims falling by 10,000 to 316,000 in the week ended Nov. 23. The Chicago purchasing managers index fell to 63 in November, but was still better than market expectation. And the Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the orders for big-ticket U.S. goods fell 2 percent in October, falling short of market expectation of a 2.2-percent fall. Generally optimistic economic data have not only pushed up U.S. dollar, but also fueled market expectation for the scaleback in bond purchase by the Federal Reserve. Upbeat data from Europe were also negative to gold. Consumer confidence in Germany rose to the highest level in more than six years; and the U.K. economy showed a 0.8 percent growth in the third quarter. But, gold demand from China remained strong. Data showed that China imported almost 1,000 tons of gold from Hong Kong in the first 10 months of the year. Gold trading on Comex will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday, and there will be an early close for Friday' s session. Silver for March delivery dropped 21.1 cents, or 1.06 percent, to close at 19.682 dollars per ounce. Platinum for January delivery lost 19.2 dollars, or 1.4 percent, to close at 1,352.7 dollars per ounce.