Metals prices ended the week sharply higher Friday on confidence that the U.S. economy will continue growing.
Metals prices started climbing Monday after early reports showed that retail sales were higher than many traders expected during Thanksgiving weekend. Prices continued to rise through the week as reports indicated the U.S. economy might grow more quickly than many investors thought.
On Friday, the government said the unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent, the lowest level since March 2009. The country added 120,000 jobs in November, according to the Labor Department. The economy has generated 100,000 or more jobs five months in a row _ the first time that has happened since April 2006, well before the deep recession.
If U.S. economic growth continues through 2012, it could increase demand for materials like palladium and copper. The metals are used as raw materials to make cars, electronics devices and construction materials.
Palladium for March delivery gained $15.65 Friday, or nearly 2.5 percent, to close at $645.85 an ounce. Palladium is up nearly 13 percent for the week. Copper for March delivery rose 5.05 cents to close at $3.5845 per pound. Copper ended the week 10 percent higher.
Platinum for January delivery lost $8.70 to settle at $1,548.50 an ounce. Platinum is up 1 percent for the week.
Precious metals also ended the week higher.
Gold for February delivery rose $11.50 to settle at $1,751.30 per ounce. Gold is up nearly 4 percent for the week. March silver fell 7.3 cents to close at $32.686 an ounce, putting silver nearly 6 percent higher since Monday.
In other trading, crop prices were mixed. Corn for March delivery fell 6.25 cents to settle at $5.9525 per bushel. January soybeans gained 7.75 cents to close at $11.3575 a bushel. March wheat rose 11.25 cents to finish at $6.255 per bushel.
In energy trading, benchmark crude oil gained 76 cents to end at $100.96 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Heating oil rose 2.05 cents to finish at $2.99 per gallon. Gasoline futures gained 5.83 cents to close at $2.6162 per gallon and natural gas lost 6.4 cents to close at $3.584 per 1,000 cubic feet.