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Gold, silver up on technical momentum

NEW YORK --Gold and silver futures rose Monday on fund buying, underpinned by technical momentum and a modestly stronger tone in crude oil.

April gold settled up $3.10 at $689.80 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, extending a nine-month high for the front-month contract. May silver settled up 9.6 cents at $14.832, also the highest level since May.

"Both gold and silver continue in their overall uptrend," said Dave Meger, senior metals analyst with Alaron Trading. "The funds continue to be prominent buyers on any dips in the market. They're being prompted by technical and momentum buying, along with the slightly weaker dollar we've seen as of late. In addition to that, there is some slight strength in the energy markets."

The metals market continues to monitor tensions between the U.N. and Iran over the latter's nuclear program, although this was a less of a market-moving feature than last week, said Meger.

Dan Vaught, futures analyst with A.G. Edwards, also cited fund buying encouraged by initial gains in crude oil.

April platinum overnight peaked at $1,252, its strongest level since November. April platinum settled up $4.40 at $1,242 an ounce.

June palladium settled down $2.20 at $361.50 an ounce.

The March copper contract settled up 1.55 cents at $2.8555 per pound, while most-active May added 1.70 cents to $2.8700.

April light, sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled up 25 cents at $61.39 a barrel.

Gasoline prices rose to a six-month closing high. Front month March gasoline settled up 1.46 cents at $1.7777 a gallon.

March heating oil settled up 0.57 cent at $1.7562 a gallon.

March natural gas settled down 20.8 cents at $7.547 a million British thermal units.

On the New York Board of Trade, Arabica coffee futures slid to two-day lows. The March contract settled down 1.40 cents at $1.1785 a pound, with May off 1.25 cents at $1.1890.

Most-active May cocoa fell $16 to settle at $1,763 per metric ton, while March fell $24 to $1,738 a ton.

Futures on raw sugar in foreign ports for March settled up 0.05 cent at 11.02 cents a pound, with May up 0.05 cent at 10.69 cents.

On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn futures ended lower, backtracking earlier gains on speculative, local profit-taking and hedge-related pressure. March corn ended 4.75 cents lower at $4.2550 per bushel, May settled 4 cents lower at $4.3850, and December finished 2.75 cents lower at $4.18.

March soybeans finished up.50 cent at $7.7875, and May soybeans closed up half a cent at $7.9450 a bushel.

March wheat settled down 1.25 cents at $4.83 a bushel.