Updated from 2:06 p.m. ESTGold prices in New York rose Friday, with geopolitical tensions and short-covering providing the catalysts. February-dated bullion contracts rallied $13 to close at $626.90 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The exchange-traded funds that own bars of gold were up also. streetTracks Gold Shares ( GLD) gained 2.3%, and iShares Comex Gold Trust ( IAU) was ahead by 2.2%. "People didn't want to be short over the forthcoming long weekend," says Jeff Christian, managing director at New York-based specialty consulting firm CPM Group. The Nymex floor session will be closed Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday. Investors selling gold contracts or any other security short hope to buy them back at lower prices. When they close out their positions, a rally can ensue. "Precious metals have been off, and those surveying the political situation don't see gold going much lower any time soon," adds Christian. In particular, he cites the U.S. military action in Somalia and Bush's speech about the Iraq conflict as areas "of concern to foreign investors." Gold is frequently purchased as a safe harbor investment during wartime. Also giving a boost to bullion was the greenback, which was trading lower despite yet more robust economic news. The value of gold tends to move up when the U.S. currency goes down in price.