Investors sent prices for gold, silver and some key agricultural commodities higher on Friday, even as they sent stocks down.
In metals, silver for March delivery rose nearly 2 percent, climbing 52.5 cents to $30.203 an ounce. February gold was also up, rising $14.20 to $1,660.10 per ounce.
Overall it was a quiet day for economic news as Christmas and the New Year's holiday loomed. With nothing else to follow, investors watched developments in the "fiscal cliff" negotiations in Washington. Republicans and Democrats have until Dec. 31 to work out a budget compromise, otherwise higher increases and government spending cuts will kick in. By Friday, hopes for a pre-Christmas deal had all but faded.
As investors plowed money into precious metals, they took it out of oil and other energy commodities, a sign that they expect the economy to slow.
Benchmark crude for February delivery fell $1.47 to finish at $88.66 per barrel in New York, the contract's lowest point in three weeks. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, fell $1.23 to end at $108.97 per barrel in London.
Key agricultural commodities for March delivery rose. Wheat edged up 1.5 cents to $7.92 a bushel. Corn rose 5.5 cents to $7.02 a bushel. Soybeans rose 24.5 cents, or nearly 2 percent, to $14.2925.
Industrial metals were mixed. March copper rose 3.1 cents to $3.567 a pound. March palladium rose $2.05 to $682.30 per ounce. January platinum fell $9.30 to $1,536.90 per ounce.
In other energy trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas lost 1.1 cents to finish at $3.4510 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 3.51 cents to end at $3.0224 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline fell 1.96 cents to finish at $2.7347 a gallon.