STEVE ROTHWELLPrecious metals advanced Wednesday after the European Union failed to agree on more Greek aid and traders greeted news of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants with skepticism. Gold for December delivery rose $4.60, or 0.3 percent, to finish at $1,728.20 an ounce. Silver for December delivery gained 42 cents, or 1.3 percent, to end at $33.35 an ounce. European Union officials couldn't reach a deal that would enable the payment of the next batch of rescue loans to Greece. That's prolonging the uncertainty over the future of the debt-stricken country and the 17-member eurozone. Traders are also skeptical that a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas to end a week of fighting will hold. "We've had a surge in open interest in gold in the last couple of days," said George Gero, vice president at RBC Global Futures in New York. "The European Union hasn't been able to agree on anything except where to sit around the table." The price of copper fell 2 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $3.50 a pound, and has fallen since reaching a high of $3.98 for the year in February amid concern about the slow pace of global economic growth. "We are seeing nothing happen with copper because of the slow recovery, and the reconstruction because of Superstorm Sandy hasn't begun yet," Gero said. In other metals trading, palladium for January rose $12.95, or 2 percent, to $651.30 an ounce. Platinum gained $10.90, or 0.7 percent, to $1,583.90 an ounce. The price of oil rose despite the announcement of a cease-fire agreement to end a week of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants. Benchmark oil rose 63 cents to finish at $87.38 a barrel. It climbed as high as $87.89 in the morning. Oil fell nearly 3 percent Tuesday, as rumors of a potential cease-fire spread. The fighting had raised concerns about oil supply from the Mideast.
In agricultural contracts, December corn fell 2.25 cents, or 0.3 percent, to end at $7.4025 a bushel, and March soybeans ended 4.5 cents, or 0.3 percent, lower at $14.082 a bushel. Wheat for December delivery was little changed at $8.46 a bushel.Trading volumes were lower than normal before the Thanksgiving holiday.