Silver and gold prices rose Monday as investors sought out relatively stable assets while uncertainty continues about the Middle East and Japan's recovery.
Commodities traders are concerned about global oil supply disruptions because of anti-government clashes in Libya and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.
The other pressing issue is whether demand for commodities will fall as Japan rebuilds after a devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the ensuing crisis at nuclear plants there.
Both situations can affect a broad range of commodities, from oil to corn.
CPM Group analyst Carlos Sanchez said many investors want to hedge their bets, such as buying gold and equities as they await developments in either situation.
In contracts for May delivery, silver rose 94.3 cents to settle at $36.001 an ounce while gold gained $10.30 to settle at $1,426.40 an ounce.
Copper, meanwhile, fell after China released final trade data for February that indicated total copper unit imports fell to the lowest level since August 2008, according to Barclays Capital analysts.
"While some of the weakness in the numbers can be attributed to seasonal reasons, it also goes some way to confirm the broadly weak demand picture inferred for the month," the analysts said in a research report. "We expect imports to strengthen in the months ahead, however."
May copper fell 5.3 cents to $4.286 a pound. April platinum added $21.50 to $1,744.90 an ounce and June palladium rose $11.10 to $742.30 an ounce.
In other trading, oil prices rose as analysts warned Libya's oil exports could be off the world market longer than expected. Meanwhile, countries including the United States enforced a no-fly zone over Libya.
Benchmark West Texas crude for May delivery added $1.24 to settle at $103.09 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other Nymex trading for April contracts, heating oil added 2.82 cents to settle at $3.0525 per gallon, gasoline rose 4.8 cents to $2.9974 per gallon and natural gas fell 0.7 cent to $4.161 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Agriculture contracts for May delivery were mixed. Wheat fell 2 cents to settle at $7.21 a bushel, corn added 3 cents to $6.865 a bushel and soybeans rose 0.5 cent to $13.63 a bushel.