Commodities markets summary
Market watch top headlines
A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:
The price of oil rose, propelled by a rebound in China's trade growth.
Benchmark oil gained 72 cents to finish at $US93.82 a barrel in New York. It has now risen more than nine per cent in the past four weeks.
Meanwhile, natural gas prices reversed course, rising eight cents, or 2.5 per cent, to end at $US3.19 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Data released Thursday showed China's export growth in December more than quadrupled from the previous month's level to 14 per cent.
Analysts also pointed to an eight per cent year-on-year rise in China's imports of crude oil in December and a 6.8 per cent increase for all of 2012.
The data was a boost for energy prices, since a pickup in economic activity in the world's second-largest economy could boost demand for oil.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 13 cents to finish at $US111.89 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Base metals on the London Metal Exchange closed mostly in positive territory after stronger than expected Chinese trade data set the tone for a risk-on move.
A reiteration of accommodative monetary policies in Europe also led most of the complex to hold onto recent gains.
At the close of open-outcry trading, flagship of the base metals group, LME three-month copper was 0.4 per cent higher on the previous day's settlement price, at $US8,111/ton.
Nickel closed 0.9 per cent lower on the day at $US17,400/ton.
London based traders said this was likely partly due to the news that LME inventories rose substantially over 2012.
Other industrial metals rose, initially after trade data for China - the largest consumer of copper - showed the trade surplus was wider than expected.
Gold has climbed on hopes for higher physical demand from top buyers India and China and currency swings after the European Central Bank's interest rate decision weighed on the US dollar.
The most actively traded contract, for February delivery, rose $US22.50, or 1.4 per cent, to settle at $US1,678 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest price since January 2.
The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged at its regular policy making meeting on Thursday, sparking a rally that pushed the euro sharply higher against the US dollar.
ECB President Mario Draghi said the decision to keep rates on hold was a unanimous one, bucking expectations among some in the market that some policy makers may favour cuts.
The euro snapped to a one-week high against the US dollar, making dollar denominated gold futures cheaper for gold buyers using the European common currency.
Dollar denominated gold tends to move inversely to the US currency.
Gold imports in India, historically the largest buyer of the precious metal, surged this week as traders placed orders ahead of an expected rise in gold import taxes, an industry official said on Thursday.
Sentiment in the gold market also received a boost from the news that China's trade surplus nearly doubled in December. The data was interpreted as another sign that the economy of the world's largest metals consumer accelerated into the end of the year.