Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange ended higher Friday as another weak day on Wall Street following corporate earnings and a decline in consumer sentiment buoyed the precious metals' investment appeal. The most active gold contract for February delivery rose 11.7 dollars, or 0.94 percent, to settle at 1,251.9 dollars per ounce. Gold prices finished the week 0.4 percent higher, the highest level since Dec. 11 Construction of new homes fell in the U.S. in December but had the strongest performance by the whole of last year since 2007. December industrial production grew in line with the consensus forecast but consumer sentiment declined in January. According to market analysts, investors mulled over the latest U.S. economic data to gauge gold's investment appeal. A miss on the building permits and the consumer sentiment data have provided a lifeline for gold. Investment bank forecasts in recent days have generally been downbeat on the outlook for gold prices this year but there are some analysts betting on a rally instead. Silver for March delivery rose 25 cents, or 1.25 percent, to close at 20.304 dollars per ounce.