Industrial metal prices jump on European meeting

AP News

10/21/2011 4:24:19 PM - AP News

Industrial metal prices rose sharply Friday on optimism that European finance ministers will make progress on addressing the region's debt crisis this weekend.

The price of copper for December delivery jumped 16.55 cents, or 5.4 percent, to settle at $3.223 a pound. December palladium rose $33.85, or nearly 6 percent, to $618.25 an ounce.

Industrial metals like copper and palladium are used in everything from televisions to automobiles. Their prices tend to rise when investors think the global economy will grow and demand will increase.

European Union leaders are set to hold a summit on Sunday. But a wide-ranging rescue plan for Europe's debt crisis is not expected to be released by Sunday's meeting. A second summit on Wednesday is scheduled, and officials said another meeting of European finance ministers would likely be held Tuesday.

Some traders were skeptical the rally could last. Metal prices have pitched sharply higher and lower in recent days as traders try to assess how effective European leaders will be at containing the financial crisis.

Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco Metals Inc., pointed out in a note to clients Friday that copper had fallen 6 percent just the day before on doubts about future demand for the metal as the U.S. housing market stalls. Optimism about Europe seems to have quickly erased those worries, Nadler wrote.

"Gloom makes way for ... hey, the weekend's coming!" Nadler wrote in a note to clients Friday.

January platinum gained $18.80 to finish at $1,509.20 an ounce.

Precious metals were also up. Gold for December delivery rose $23.20, or 1.4 percent, to settle at $1,636.10 an ounce. December silver was up 91.2 cents to close at $31.193.

December wheat gained 1.25 cents to finish at $6.32 per bushel. December corn lost 0.25 cents to end at $6.4925 per bushel. November soybeans fell 12.75 cents, or 1 percent, to finish at $12.1225 a bushel.

Oil prices rose. Benchmark gained $1.33 to end at $87.40 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Heating oil lost 1.26 cents to finish at $3.0175 per gallon, gasoline futures rose 0.91 cents to close at $2.6846 per gallon and natural gas lost 0.1 cents to close at $3.629 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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