Gold and silver rise on uncertainty


NEW YORK–Precious metal prices closed higher Thursday as questions continued to swirl about Europe’s efforts to resolve its debt crisis. Gold for December delivery gained US$35.50, or 2 percent, to settle at US$1,765.10 per ounce. December silver rose 55.5 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at US$34.498 an ounce. Precious metals often rise during times of financial uncertainty. Investors buy hard assets as a way to protect their money. On Thursday, traders were looking for safety as they tried to determine how the European financial crisis would unfold. Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou said he would abandon his plan to put a European bailout package to a popular vote. A “no” vote would have endangered Europe’s plan to shore up its financial system and protect European banks from a default by Greece. “Traders tried, in desperation, to make sense out of the steady flow of headlines … but a solution to the current crisis still seems miles away,” George Gero, senior vice president at RBC Wealth Management in New York wrote in a note to clients Thursday. Precious metals also gained from the news that the European Central Bank cut its benchmark interest rate to 1.25 percent from 1.5 percent. The bank’s stimulus action could boost inflation Europe, which tends to boost the value of gold and silver. Industrial metals also rose. Copper for December delivery rose 0.75 cents to settle at US$3.5885 a pound. December palladium gained US$13.45, or 2 percent, at US$662.10 an ounce. January platinum rose US$45.70 to finish at US$1,647 an ounce. Crop prices were also up. December wheat gained 12.5 cents to finish at US$6.36 per bushel. December corn fell 8.5 cents to end at US$6.535 per bushel. November soybeans gained 24.5 cents to finish at US$12.2725 a bushel.