Commodities mostly rise as dollar falls; Oil dips

AP News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2009 4:17 PM

Most commodities rose Monday, with the exception of energy futures, which were hampered by ongoing concerns over weak demand.

A falling dollar helped buoy prices for gold, silver and other metals, while agriculture futures got a boost from an upbeat analyst report.

Oil prices fell for a ninth day in a row as investors worried that demand will stay in a slump. Crude supplies have been on the rise as refiners cut back on production because of weak demand.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery fell 36 cents to settle at $69.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after falling as low as $68.59.

Investors waded back into most other commodities as the dollar weakened, making them less expensive for foreign buyers. A nine-month rally in commodities came to a halt this month as investors book some profits and question how long the dollar will remain weak.

The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates near zero this year, weakening the dollar and making assets like stocks and commodities more attractive to investors. As the economy shows signs of strength, investors are worried that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates sooner than expected and potentially upend the rally in commodities.

The Fed meets this week for its final policy meeting of the year. The central bank is widely expected to leave rates unchanged, but investors are anxious for any more insight on the timing of a future rate hike.

Gold for February delivery edged up $3.90 to settle at $1,123.80 an ounce. Prices have fallen 8.4 percent from a record high of $1,227.50 hit earlier this month. For the year, prices are still up 27.1 percent.

March silver rose 25 cents to $17.34 an ounce, while January platinum rose $24.30 to $1,447 an ounce. December palladium rose $6 to $366.15 an ounce.

March copper futures rose 1.9 cents to $3.152 a pound.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures lost 1.49 cents to $1.8267 a gallon, while heating oil futures dipped less than a cent to $1.9082 a gallon.

Grain prices rose on the Chicago Board of Trade after a bullish research note from Deutsche Bank said agriculture futures are poised to rise sharply in the coming months.

Low crop inventories combined with forecasts for strong global demand should support higher prices, wrote analyst Michael Lewis. Lewis also believes agriculture futures will be less sensitive than other commodities to changes in U.S. interest rate policies and the dollar.

Grains have largely underperformed other commodities like gold and oil this year, making them prime for a rally, he said.

January soybeans jumped 20 cents to $10.55 a bushel, while March wheat futures added 6 cents to $5.435 a bushel. March corn rose 4 cents to $4.085 a bushel.

Among other soft commodities, March coffee rose 3.25 cents to $1.459 a pound, while January sugar futures rose 1.28 cents, or 5.5 percent, to 24.71 cents per pound.