Gold and silver futures settled higher Thursday as a slightly weaker dollar lent support to the market.
Precious metals were also helped by a dollar decline on Wednesday.
At settlement Thursday, most-active February gold was up $6.60 at $636.90 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract traded in a tight range of $633.50 to $638 an ounce throughout the session.
March silver settled 1.5 cents higher at $12.94 an ounce, after fund buying met with selling at the highs to keep the advance contained.
January platinum rose 50 cents to settle at $1,116.20 an ounce, while March palladium was 95 cents lower at $327.95 an ounce.
The most-active March copper contract fell 1.9 cents to settle at $2.8950 a pound.
In energy trading on the Nymex, crude oil futures rose modestly after a report showed a surprisingly large decline in U.S. crude stocks.
Commercial inventories of crude oil plunged by a whopping 8.1 million barrels, more than six times analysts' expectations, to 321 million barrels last week, as imports remained low in the wake of shipping delays along the Gulf Coast, the federal Energy Information Administration reported.
The February crude contract rose 19 cents to finish at $60.53 a barrel.
January heating oil gained 1.43 cents to close at $1.6231 a gallon, and January unleaded gasoline lost 0.54 cents to end at $1.5821 a gallon.
Natural gas futures reversed three days of losses and settled higher on the first day of trading February as the front-month contract. Traders, tired of a downward spiraling gas market, pushed prices up.
Natural gas for February delivery settled 10.6 cents higher at $6.248 a million British thermal units.
On the New York Board of Trade, Arabica coffee futures finished sharply lower after an intraday climb attempt was stymied by producer selling, year-end profit-taking and book-squaring, brokers and traders said.
March coffee settled 3.9 cents lower at $1.2500 a pound, near the bottom of the day's trading range of $1.2450 a pound to $1.2975 a pound.
An early firm tone was seen as speculators and funds were buying with an eye toward major upside resistance at the $1.3000 level. That ceiling had stalled upside rally attempts twice earlier in December.
As the market edged toward that key level, origin and trade selling hit the market and kept a lid on upside action.
In the final hour of trade, pressure on the market started to build and Latin American selling pushed the market into negative territory, said James Cordier, head of Liberty Trading in Florida.
"Right now, spec buying is brisk, but so is producer selling," he said.
Meanwhile, cocoa futures fell slightly Thursday in light trading. Most-active March cocoa fell $3 to settle at $1,634 a ton, and May lost $2 to finish at $1,656 a ton.
Futures on raw sugar in foreign ports closed slightly firmer. The market was helped by speculative and local buying, but producer and trade selling capped the climb, brokers said. March sugar futures settled 0.07 cents higher at 11.86 cents a pound.
Meanwhile, cotton futures rose to new 13-week highs, supported by year-end speculative and fund buying, market participants said.
Most-active March cotton gained 0.58 cents to settle at 56.96 cents a pound. The futures traded as high as 56.98 cents a pound Thursday.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn and soy futures got a boost from technical buying.
March corn ended 1.75 cents higher at $3.8850 cents a bushel, and May corn finished 1.5 cents stronger at $3.9625 a bushel.
January soybeans finished 6.25 cents higher at $6.7575 a bushel, and March soybeans ended 5.25 cents stronger at $6.9050 a bushel. March soymeal settled 60 cents higher at $194.40 per short ton, while March soyoil ended 0.33 cents higher at 29.71 cents a pound.
However, wheat futures ended mostly lower as bearish fundamental factors pressured prices in the absence of strong fund or speculative buying, market participants said.
Bearish weather forecasts for wheat-growing areas in the U.S. Southern Plains and eastern Midwest predict beneficial precipitation will fall.
Chicago Board of Trade March wheat ended 2.75 cents lower at $5.0425 a bushel, Kansas City Board of Trade March wheat a quarter-cent higher at $5.1225 a bushel, and Minneapolis Grain Exchange March wheat closed three-quarter cent lower at $5.1225 a bushel.