Gold prices hit high for the year

Gold prices hit $1,790 an ounce in Friday trading, before falling back to $1,778. Gold prices rose on hopes of economic stimulus from a Spanish bailout.

Lisi Niesner/Reuters/File
Gold and silver bars are pictured at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna in 2011. Gold prices briefly hit a new record for 2012 Friday, shooting to $1,790 an ounce before falling back.

Gold has hit a high for the year on speculation that Spain may be working on a request for financial help from other European countries.

December gold rose $7.80 to finish at $1,778 per ounce. Earlier Friday, it hit $1,790 per ounce, which topped the previous 2012 high, set in late February.

Analysts speculated that Spain is working on an economic reform plan that will include a request for bailout funding from Europe.

The country's borrowing costs have dropped sharply since the European Central Bank said recently it will buy unlimited amounts of government bonds to help countries with heavy debt loads. Those borrowing costs probably will rise again if Spain doesn't request a bailout soon, analysts said.

In the U.S., the Federal Reserve also has put a plan in place to encourage economic growth.

Such economic stimulus programs continue to benefit gold prices, said Phillip Streible, a senior commodities broker at RJ O'Brien.

Investors buy gold as a hedge against inflation and volatility in currencies. Gold is priced in dollars but can be converted into any currency.

Other commodities were mostly higher as traders waited for more clues about how the global economy will fare under economic stimulus programs in several countries.

Silver for December delivery fell 4.4 cents to finish at $34.638 per ounce, December copper rose 3 cents to $3.789 per pound, October platinum gained $13.70 to $1,637.60 per ounce and December palladium ended up $10.45 at $671.55 per ounce.

Oil prices rose as traders weighed slower global economic growth against the uncertainty of potential supply disruptions in the Middle East, analysts said.

Benchmark oil increased 47 cents to finish at $92.89 per barrel. The price has fallen about 6.5 percent in the past week because of the slower economy, weak demand and plentiful supplies.

Heating oil rose 2.32 cents to end at $3.1207 per gallon, wholesale gasoline increased 3.85 cents to $2.9425 per gallon and natural gas gained 8.8 cents to $2.885 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In agricultural contracts, December wheat increased 17.75 cents to finish at $8.9725 per bushel, December corn rose 2.25 cents to $7.4825 per bushel and November soybeans ended up 3 cents at $16.2175 per bushel.

AP writer Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.

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