A new bond-buying plan to help ease Europe's debt crisis is benefiting commodity prices.
The European Central Bank said Thursday that it will buy unlimited amounts of government bonds from countries struggling with massive debt. That should make it cheaper for them to borrow money.
Gold topped $1,700 per ounce for the first time in six months after the news was announced. Prices for oil, silver, wheat and corn also rose.
The bank's announcement was the first of two major developments that commodities traders have been anticipating this week. Up next is Friday's report on the U.S. job market. Economists predict it will show employers added 135,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate is expected to stay unchanged at 8.3 percent.
If the numbers prove disappointing, analysts say it could raise expectations that the Federal Reserve will approve additional measures to aid the U.S. economy. That likely would lead to higher prices for most commodities.
After the bank's announcement, traders bought gold as a hedge against inflation. They also are concerned about the impact of higher prices for food, gasoline and oil, said George Gero, a vice president at RBC Global Futures.