Supply worries pushed up prices for platinum and palladium on Wednesday.
Both metals have been rising for most of the year. On Wednesday, palladium for March delivery rose 65 cents to $772.05 per ounce. April platinum rose $12.50 to $1,729.70 per ounce.
The increases are partly because traders believe the economy and the auto industry are improving. Palladium and platinum are used in manufacturing, including catalytic converters in vehicles.
Prices also are climbing because of supply concerns. Russia's stockpiles are expected to fall this year, says Dave Meger, director of metals trading at Vision Financial Markets in Chicago. Strikes at mines in South Africa have also disrupted supply, and Zimbabwe is curbing the amount of land available for mining.
The major metals moved only slightly, matching a quiet day in the stock market. Trading was thin. Most of Asia was off to celebrate the lunar new year, Meger said. In other metals trading, gold and silver slipped, while copper was essentially flat.
April gold fell $4.50 to $1,645.10 per ounce. March silver fell 15 cents to $30.869 per ounce. March copper lost 0.15 cent to $3.7425 per pound.
In energy trading, the price of oil fell after the government reported higher U.S. crude supplies.
Benchmark oil for March delivery dropped 50 cents to $97.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Other energy commodities were mixed. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 6 cents to $118.72 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $3.04 a gallon. Natural gas rose 8 cents to $3.31 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $3.22 a gallon.
Key crops were mixed.
Wheat rose 3.5 cents to $7.355 per bushel. Corn fell 0.75 cent to $6.955 per bushel. Soybeans rose 2.25 cents to $14.23 per bushel.
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