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European bank worries drive gold prices up

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Renewed concerns over the stability of European banks sent gold prices up Thursday.

News that one of Portugal's biggest financial firms missed a debt payment hit stock markets in Europe, raising worries about the region's banks. Traders shifted money into U.S. Treasurys and gold in search of safe hiding spots.

Gold for August delivery rose $14.90, or 1.1 percent, to settle at $1,339.20 an ounce Thursday. Silver for September jumped 44 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $21.51.

Phil Streible, senior commodity broker at RJ O'Brien & Associates in Chicago, said traders often move into gold in anticipation of a crisis.

"People move out of the markets they perceive could get hit the most," he said. "They park their cash in Treasurys or in gold until they get their bearings straight."

In March, gold prices hit a high point for the year on concerns over a territorial dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

Industrial metals ended higher Thursday. Copper for September delivery added 2 cents to $3.27 a pound. Platinum for October rose $10.10 to $1,517 an ounce, while palladium for September gained 90 cents to $873.60.

In other commodity trading, wheat dropped 3 cents to $5.49 a bushel. Corn fell 5 cents to $3.93 a bushel, while soybeans slipped 11 cents to $10.93.

Elsewhere, benchmark crude oil rose 64 cents to settle at $102.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $2.96 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 5 cents to $4.12 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil added 2 cents to $2.89 a gallon.

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