By SARA LEPRONEW YORK (AP) ¿ Gold prices inched higher Friday, boosted by comments from China's premier that stirred fears about weakness in the dollar and U.S. Treasurys. Energy and agriculture futures were mostly lower. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warned the U.S. not to devalue the dollar through reckless spending. The U.S. is counting on Beijing to help pay for its stimulus spending by buying U.S. bonds. China already holds about $1 trillion of U.S. government debt, and a weaker dollar would devalue those assets. The dollar, Treasurys and gold are all considered safe-haven investments. As both the dollar and Treasurys weakened Friday, demand for gold rose as investors moved out of those assets and into gold in search of safety. Meanwhile, more uncertainty about the future of the U.S. economy plagued investors on Wall Street as stocks wavered after three straight days of gains. "All in all, what is providing support is uncertainty and volatility in the financial markets, and the continued move to safe-haven assets," said Carlos Sanchez, an analyst with CPM Group in New York.
Gold for April delivery added $6.10 to settle at settle at $930.10 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Though prices ended the week down 1.3 percent, analysts expect prices to continue to move higher over the long term. "What it's doing now is it's building a base around current levels, which is positive for higher prices," Sanchez said. May silver jumped 27.2 cents to $13.2150 an ounce, while May copper futures gained 4 cents to $1.6645 a pound. On Wall Street, stocks were largely higher after recovering from midday declines. The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 54 points to finish at 7,224. Broader stock indexes also rose. Bond prices fell Friday after the Chinese premier's comments. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.90 percent from 2.86 percent late Thursday. Oil prices seesawed on the Nymex ahead of OPEC's meeting this weekend in Vienna, Austria. Leaders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which produces more than 40 percent of the world's oil, have sent mixed signals about whether they plan to cut production beyond the 4.2 million barrels per day they have already promised to cut. Production cuts can help balance a drop in demand, which is expected to continue to fall as the economy worsens.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery fell 78 cents to settle at $46.25 a barrel. In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures slipped less than a penny to $1.3529 a gallon, while heating oil futures fell 2.92 cents to $1.1972 a gallon. Grain prices mostly fell on the Chicago Board of Trade. May wheat futures fell 6.75 cents to settle at $5.1825 a bushel, while May soybeans slipped 5.5 cents to $8.7650 a bushel. Corn for May delivery added 3.25 cents to $3.8850 a bushel.