With this morning's employment report indicating solid job growth, Friday looked like it might be another tough day for the gold market. But Russian President Vladimir Putin's call for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council was enough to send stocks dropping and gold soaring, and spot gold managed to stay atop the key $1,300 mark in late-afternoon trading, as silver and platinum also hung onto solid gains. In today's spotlight, miners did particularly well, with Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) and Silver Wheaton (NYSE:WPM) posting larger gains than the bullion-tracking SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEMKT:GLD), as investors saw greater long-term potential due to some favorable factors.

Russian troubles
Reports from Ukraine indicated that ongoing fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists led to major casualties in the southern coastal city of Odessa, which is Ukraine's third-largest city. Ukrainian helicopters were shot down, and a building fire reportedly killed dozens of people. Putin's call for a U.N. Security Council meeting marked a key moment for the markets Friday, as gold soared while stocks fell from would-be record levels. With so much uncertainty coming immediately before a weekend, SPDR Gold Shares followed a similar pattern to that of many previous weeks in the recent past, rising into the weekend as a safe-haven play.

Investors in many mining companies saw even bigger advances than the SPDR Gold Shares, though. Goldcorp rose 2% as investors continued to weigh the gold miner's earnings from earlier in the week, in which the company announced substantial declines from year-ago levels of revenue and profitability, but also managed to cut costs significantly, setting the stage for more impressive performance in the future. Lost in the earnings shuffle and the saga with Osisko Mining was the news that Goldcorp won a dispute over its Chilean El Morro project, with an appeals court in Chile ruling in favor of Goldcorp. The local group that opposes the project hasn't run out of legal remedies yet, but the ruling puts Goldcorp one step closer to what could be an important long-term project for Goldcorp.

Image: Mark Herpel, Flickr.

Meanwhile, Silver Wheaton gained 1.5%. Traditionally, Silver Wheaton has focused on the silver market, but more recently, streaming deals with gold producers has given Silver Wheaton some exposure to gold, as well. Silver investors might not be all that happy with the move, as gold tends to move with less volatility than silver and, therefore, arguably offers less upside potential for profits. Yet, the real question is whether Silver Wheaton will find more lucrative opportunities by expanding its scope to consider gold investments than it would have if it had chosen to remain solely in the silver realm. In the long run, Silver Wheaton will have the flexibility to go wherever it can find the most profitable business.

How metals moved today
Gold moved sharply higher Friday, with June gold futures rising $19.50 per ounce Friday to settle at $1,302.90. July silver futures gained even more on a percentage basis, climbing $0.50 per ounce to settle at $19.55, while platinum-group metals were mixed, as platinum jumped, but palladium gave up recent gains.


Today's Spot Price and Change From Previous Day


$1,300, up $15


$19.46, up $0.44


$1,433, up $14


$808, down $4

Source: Kitco. As of market close.

Monday's market action will be entirely determined by whether conditions in Ukraine worsen. If the latest signs of escalation once again turn out to be a false alarm, then gold could fall back below $1,300 quickly and substantially.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.