The commodities market struggled for direction Friday.
The price of gold was flat and silver rose, while industrial metals fell. Wheat and corn fell, while soybeans rose. And oil prices waivered throughout the day before closing lower.
The mixed day for commodities came on a good day for the stock market.
U.S. stocks fell in early trading after a disappointing manufacturing report, then rose after news that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might support additional Fed action Fed to help the economy.
Gold often rises when investors think the Fed is going to get more involved in the economy. Some investors worry about inflation, while others buy gold to take advantage of a weaker dollar.
But Friday, gold for December delivery was virtually flat, rising 10 cents to $1,672.90 per ounce. Gold hit a four-month high this week after earlier hints of Fed action, but at least one Fed official has cast doubt on that plan.
"There's just a lot of uncertainty overall," said Adam Patti, CEO of the asset management firm IndexIQ. "One day the news is positive, one day it's negative. One day Greece is under control, one day it's not. All the metals are reacting to uncertain economic news."
Another precious metal, silver, for December delivery, edged up half a percentage point. It rose 16.7 cents to $30.709 per ounce.
Several key industrial metals fell, likely a result of a morning report about durable goods. The Commerce Department said that orders for long-lasting factory goods, like computers and industrial equipment, were down in July after stripping out the volatile transportation index.
Copper, palladium and platinum, which rely on manufacturing, construction and other industry, all fell.
September copper lost 0.9 cent, to $3.4835 per pound. September palladium fell $4.45 to $652.15 per ounce. October platinum was down 50 cents to $1,554.40 per ounce.
The price of oil also fell. It rose earlier in the day, as traders worried that Tropical Storm Isaac could crimp supplies. But it ended lower after a trade journal reported that Western countries might release oil reserves.
Crude traded in New York fell 12 cents to finish at $96.15 per barrel. Brent crude traded in London fell 37 cents to end at $113.22 per barrel.
Other energy commodities were mixed. Wholesale gasoline rose a penny to $3.12 per gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $3.12 per gallon. Natural gas fell 10 cents to finish at $2.71 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In agricultural commodities, December wheat fell 6.25 cents to $8.885 per bushel. December corn fell 6.25 cents to $8.085. November soybeans fell 16.5 cents to $17.315 per bushel.
The drop in wheat and corn was only a small relief. Prices for all three commodities have spiked throughout the summer, as a devastating drought hurts crops in the Midwest.