By STEVE ROTHWELL
Gold prices edged higher Monday after President Obama said that a budget deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" was in sight, if not yet complete. The advance capped a 12th consecutive year of gains.
February gold rose $19.90, or 1.2 percent, to $1,675.80 an ounce.
Gold gained almost 7 percent in 2012 after starting the year at $1,566.80.Investors have been buying gold as a safe haven and as protection against inflation while the value of the dollar declined. The metal has gained almost six-fold since the start of 2000. In other metals trading, copper advanced 6.3 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $3.6525 a pound, after a report showed that Chinese manufacturing hit a 19-month high in December, indicating that the world's second-largest economy is gaining momentum following a global slowdown. Copper is used in many industries and its price fluctuates with the outlook for global economic growth. Silver, platinum and palladium also gained. Silver for March delivery rose 25.20 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $30.277. April platinum advanced $20.80, or 1.4 percent, to $1,542.40 an ounce and March palladium gained $3.05, or 0.4 percent, to $703.35 an ounce. In energy trading, crude oil futures prices ended higher on the New York Mercantile Exchange, rising $1.02, or 1.1 percent, to close at $91.82 a barrel. Gasoline for January rose 1.21 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $2.8120 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $3.0451 a gallon. Natural gas for February fell 11.8 cents to $3.3510 per 1,000 cubic feet, a drop of 1.1 percent. Prices for agricultural commodities were mixed. In March contracts, wheat fell 0.75 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $7.78 a bushel. Corn rose 4.25 cents, 0.6 percent, to $6.9825 per bushel. Soybeans fell 8.5 cents to $14.095 per bushel, a drop of 0.6 percent.