Gold prices rose more than 1 percent and silver popped nearly 2 percent Tuesday on fresh evidence the struggling U.S. housing industry is recovering plus rising German business sentiment that boosted investors' risk appetite.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that housing starts last month rose more than expected -- to an 18-month high -- and a top Federal Reserve official on Monday predicted the nation's economy will grow at least 2 percent next year.

Germany's Ifo think tank reported that business sentiment in the Eurozone's top economy rose unexpectedly this month on strong consumer demand.

On Wednesday the European Central Bank will begin offering low-interest, three-year funds to Eurozone banks. It is hoped that some of the money will be used to buy Italian and Spanish bonds, which now carry soaring interest rates.

Global equities rose on the day's prospects, though volumes were light. Overnight, the Hang Seng and Nikkei 225 were both up, though Singapore's Straits Times stock index was lower.

Also in Asia, cost-conscious buyers of physical gold continued taking advantage of the metal's recently reduced price amid tightening supplies.

Reuters said that gold bar premiums increased in Hong Kong to $2 to $2.50 an ounce over spot prices, from 50 cents to $1.50 a week earlier.

France's CAC 40 stock index jumped 1.6 percent, Germany's DAX rose 1.4 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 0.2 percent in morning trading.

The euro was holding at close to $1.30 and the dollar fell 0.83 percent to 80.14 on the ICE US Dollar Index, which gauges the greenback against a basket of major currencies.

U.S. Treasuries fell, lifting their interest rates, as investors left the safe haven for riskier assets.

The S&P 500 climbed 1.4 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.2 percent and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.4 percent.

Crude oil on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean rose though copper, the other main proxy for economic activity, was lower.

Comex gold climbed $16.50 to $1,613.20, while spot gold rose $20.19 to $1,613.03.

Comex silver gained 53 cents to $29.40, while spot silver added 67 cents to $29.43.