Gold hit its highest closing price this year as concerns mount over Russia and Ukraine.
Gold for April delivery rose $6.60, or 0.5 percent, to settle at $1,379 an ounce Friday.
A referendum will be held Sunday in Ukraine’s region of Crimea, where residents will vote on whether to split from Ukraine to join Russia. If Crimea secedes, the U.S. and European Union could slap sanctions on Russian officials and businesses as early as Monday.
“A lot of sanctions are lined up and ready to go if the Russians move to annex Crimea,” said Edward Meir, a senior commodity consultant at INTL FCStone in New York. “I think that would be pretty destabilizing for markets if that happens.”
The dispute has helped push the price of gold up 4.6 percent this month. Traders tend to shift money into gold during turbulent times.
Silver for May delivery rose 21.5 cents, or 1 percent, to $21.41 an ounce. Copper edged up 2.75 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $2.95 per pound.
Other metals traded lower. Platinum for April delivery dropped $9.80, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $1,469.60 an ounce. Palladium for June fell $5.70, also 0.7 percent, to $773.25 an ounce.
Agricultural futures were mixed, with wheat rising and soybeans falling.
Wheat for May delivery rose 13.5 cents, or 2 percent, to $6.85 a bushel.
Corn for the same month rose one penny to $4.86 a bushel. Soybeans for May slipped 7.8 cents to $13.89 a bushel.
In the market for oil and gas, the price of crude oil edged up 69 cents to $98.89 a barrel in New York.
Natural gas rose 4.2 cents to $4.425 per 1,000 cubic feet.