Gold and silver recovered from early losses Thursday, but other commodities fell as the dollar strengthened.
Investors sought safety in the U.S. currency, Treasurys and gold while selling other commodities like copper and oil following a barrage of weak economic data.
Among the day's disappointing news was a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association showing a surge in home foreclosures during the third quarter. The latest report from the Labor Department indicated that the economy is still losing jobs.
The ICE Futures US dollar index, a widely used measure of the dollar against other currencies, rose 0.3 percent in afternoon trading. The dollar has been on a generally downward trajectory since March as U.S. interest rates remain at record lows.
December copper futures shed 2.95 cents to $3.106 a pound as the dollar rose, while oil prices tumbled nearly 3 percent, losing $2.12 to $77.46 a barrel. A stronger dollar makes commodities more expensive to foreign buyers.
Gold and silver managed to hold on to most of their recent gains, a bullish sign for the metals, which have been on a nearly unbreakable climb over the past few months. Gold is seen as an alternative investment to the U.S. currency and a hedge against inflation.
Gold futures edged up 70 cents to settle at $1,141.90 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the December contract fell as low as $1,130 an ounce.
December silver also rebounded, rising 4 cents to $18.455 an ounce, after dropping as much as 26.5 cents earlier in the session.
Investors have been buying up commodities for much of this year on the belief that the economic recovery was under way and that demand for basic goods and materials would pick up. As investors' risk appetite grew, the dollar weakened.
However, some investors have begun to question just how much more the commodity rally has to go, considering that evidence continues to suggest the economy's recovery will be slow.
Analysts expect investment demand for gold though to remain high through the end of the year. Gold is also considered a stable store of value, so investors tend to flock to the metal when the economic outlook is cloudy.
"The outlook for investment is positive overall," said Aram Shishmanian, CEO of World Gold Council, in a statement Thursday. "Demand is likely to remain well supported by continued economic and currency uncertainty."
Elsewhere on the Nymex, December platinum lost $8.10 to $1,440.70 an ounce. Palladium also fell.
Gasoline futures fell 4.19 cents to $1.9695 a gallon, while heating oil futures fell 5.22 cents to $1.9964 a gallon.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, March wheat futures fell 4 cents to $5.84 a bushel, while corn for March delivery fell 3 cents to $4.1075 a bushel.
January soybeans added 12 cents to $10.39 a bushel.
Among other soft commodities, December cocoa futures tumbled $58 to $3,141 a ton, while December coffee gave up 3 cents to $1.3505 a pound.