Commodities markets summary
Market watch top headlines
A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:
Oil prices made further gains, with crude supported by unrest in north Africa following an attack by Islamist militants on an Algerian gas field and amid fighting in neighbouring Mali, analysts say.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March climbed $US1.45 cents to $US111.13 a barrel.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for February, closed $US1.25 higher at $US95.49 a barrel.
Gold climbed to a one-month high as a weak reading on mid-Atlantic manufacturing underlined the view that US growth may not be robust enough for the Federal Reserve to pull back on its accommodative monetary policy.
The most actively traded contract, for February delivery, on Thursday rose $US7.60, or 0.5 per cent, to settle at $US1,690.80 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest ending price since December 7.
Futures had traded in negative territory earlier on Thursday, after data showed the number of US workers filing new applications for jobless benefits dropped to the lowest level in five years.
But they recovered after a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia report suggested the economy wasn't firing on all cylinders. The bank said business conditions for mid-Atlantic manufacturers this month unexpectedly returned to contraction.
Base metals have closed higher on the London Metal Exchange (LME), boosted by positive news on the US economy.
At the PM kerb close on Thursday, LME three-month copper was up 1.3 per cent at $US8,053 a metric ton while Zinc saw the biggest rise, up 1.5 per cent at $US2,009.50/ton.
Investors were cheered by the release of strong housing and employment data from the US Thursday.
US home building surged in December, finishing the year with the most new homes started since 2008, the Commerce Department said. Housing starts rose 12.1 per cent last month, reaching the highest level since July 2008.
The US is the world's No 2 copper-consuming country behind China, and building construction accounts for about half of copper demand, according to data from the Copper Development Association trade group.
Initial jobless claims in the US also declined by 37,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 335,000 in the week ending January 12, the lowest level in five years.