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Originally published Friday, March 9, 2012 at 12:34 PM

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Gold prices rise on worries about Europe's economy

Gold topped $1,700 an ounce Friday as concerns lingered about Europe's financial problems even after strong participation in Greece's bond swap.

AP Business Writer

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Gold topped $1,700 an ounce Friday as concerns lingered about Europe's financial problems even after strong participation in Greece's bond swap.

Gold for April delivery rose $12.80 to finish at $1,711.50 an ounce. Silver also rose 38.1 cents at $34.212 per ounce. Both metals are considered relatively stable assets during uncertain economic times.

About 84 percent of Greece's private investors agreed to take losses on their bond holdings, erasing about $130 billion in the country's debt. Greece is now expected to get bailout funding from its neighbors.

However, some investors remain concerned about Greece's ability to emerge successfully from the crisis and what impact it could have on the broader European economy, said Sterling Smith, a market analyst at Country Hedging LLC.

In other trading, investors were hopeful that demand would pick up for industrial metals after India's central bank cut reserve requirements for lenders to keep credit available as the economy slows. In addition, China's consumer price inflation declined to a 20-month low, leading to speculation that the government may take steps to stimulate economic growth.

Copper for May delivery rose 6.7 cents to end at $3.8585 per pound, April platinum increased $28.20 to $1,684.90 an ounce and June palladium ended up $10.50 at $709.95 per ounce.

Grains and beans were mixed after the U.S. Agriculture Department released its latest estimate of global supply and demand predictions.

The forecast for U.S. wheat inventories was revised lower, calling for stockpiles to decline 4.3 percent by summer's end, compared with a year ago. Exports were expected to increase because of stronger demand for food, seed and industrial use.

The corn and soybean forecasts were mostly unchanged from the February forecast. Corn stockpiles are expected to remain tight while soybean inventories should be adequate. The agency said that higher soybean prices triggered by damage to South American crops have cut into global demand.

Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics & Consulting LLC, speculated that the estimates may prompt more farmers to plant soybeans on expectations of higher cash prices in the fall and the potential for demand to improve.

In May contracts, wheat rose 8.25 cents to end at $6.43 per bushel, corn increased 9.5 cents to $6.45 per bushel and soybeans fell 0.75 cent to $13.3775 per bushel.

Energy products were mixed. Benchmark oil rose 82 cents to finish at $107.40 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil fell 0.57 cent to end at $3.2638 per gallon, gasoline increased 1.84 cents to $3.3324 per gallon and natural gas rose 5 cents to end at $2.32 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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