Gold and silver prices rose Tuesday as investors sought out stable assets while monitoring Europe's debt crisis and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.
Gold for June delivery added $19.50 Tuesday to settle at $1,452.50 an ounce. Silver gained 68.9 cents to settle at $39.183 an ounce.
Uncertainty about what may be next in Europe and in oil-rich countries like Libya is prompting investors to buy precious metals, which have the reputation of being relatively stable. Analysts say prices of both metals could continue to increase until there is more clarity about global events.
China raised key interest rates for the fourth time since October to try to curb inflation. That news was overshadowed by investor concerns about financial problems in Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.
In addition, worries lingered that violent uprisings in Libya and other neighboring countries could disrupt the flow of oil from the region.
"All those fundamental factors persisting really took over and really drove market prices to new highs," said Dave Meger, vice president of metals trading at Vision Financial Markets.
In the United States, Federal Reserve officials raised concerns last month that a big jump in energy prices could weaken the economy and unleash inflation. That prompted some to suggest the possibility of tightening credit this year.
The minutes of the Fed's closed-door meeting were released Tuesday, a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke repeated his prediction that sharply higher prices for oil, food and other commodities will be "transitory."
Most economists think the Fed will start raising interest rates next year to fend off inflation. However, some analysts think the Fed will be forced to start raising rates near the end of this year.
In other metals contracts, May copper rose 0.95 cent to $4.2645 a pound, July platinum added $9.80 to settle at $1,796.80 an ounce and June palladium gained $8.70 to settle at $793.10 an ounce.
Grains and beans were little changed. In contracts for May delivery, wheat slipped 3.75 cents to settle at $7.8625 a bushel, corn rose 6.5 cents to $7.6675 a bushel and soybeans fell 10.75 cents to $13.7325 a bushel.
The ongoing global events also weighed on oil prices. Benchmark crude for May delivery lost 13 cents to settle at $108.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other Nymex contracts for May, heating oil rose 1.36 cents to settle at $3.185 per gallon, gasoline rose 3.25 cents to $3.2013 per gallon and natural gas fell 5.8 cents to $4.231 per 1,000 cubic feet.
AP Economics Writer Jeannine Aversa contributed to this report.