By Eric Sepanek

Silver trading was erratic at the start of the short holiday week: Tuesday opened with prices at $15.74, and they jumped to $16.02 before falling to $15.85. By Thursday, silver spot prices climbed to $16.19.

A series of government reports on consumer data, jobs, and housing starts seemed to have little impact on trading, and buyers seizing end-of-year profit-taking opportunities helped push silver prices to $16.23 on Thursday. The strong dollar remained the heaviest pressure on the market.

Friday’s last silver trades of the year peaked at $16.22 before falling to $15.88 for the close.

Year-end trades reflected normal rebalancing and profit taking on the white metal, whose performance for the year was up an impressive 14 percent. In the first two quarters of 2016, silver prices rose to $21.23, a 56 percent increase over the year’s low of $13.62.

Will silver prices rise in 2017? Market traders are looking to see a climb in silver prices to above $18 in the new year, which is viewed as the next benchmark for a return to a rising price trend. Some analysts forecast a strong year ahead for silver, with price increases potentially exceeding those of gold.

In the coming week, buyers of gold and silver will be watching the influence of the dollar and U.S. political news on the markets.