Commodities rise as traders predict weaker dollar

AP News
Posted: Dec 31, 2009 5:43 PM

Commodities prices rose in the final trading of the year as investors looked past modest gains in the dollar and predicted the greenback would slump next year.

Gold for February delivery rose $3.70 to settle at $1,096.20 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Investors use gold in part to protect against drops in the greenback so demand for the precious metal often rises when the dollar slides.

The dollar rose Thursday but concerns about weakness in the dollar in 2010 boosted demand for gold. Markets are closed Friday.

Gold is down 10.7 percent from a high of $1,227.50 on Dec. 3, but it still rose 24 percent for the year.

Meanwhile, oil touched $80 a barrel on Thursday for the first time in seven weeks.

The ICE Futures US dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of currencies, rose less than 0.1 percent.

Copper rose in part as investors grew concerned about the possibility of a strike at mines in Chile. March copper futures rose 0.15 cent to $3.3465 a pound. It reached a new high for the year during trading.

Richard Ilczyszyn, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock, a futures brokerage, predicts commodities will remain strong in 2010 because he doesn't expect strength in the dollar in the past month will hold.

"I don't have that much faith in the dollar short-term," he said, looking ahead six months to a year.

Ilczyszyn said the Federal Reserve is likely to hold interest rates at record lows to help prop up the economy. That could hurt demand for the dollar and investors seeking stronger returns could look for investments like stocks and commodities. The dollar has risen in December on expectations that the Fed might have to raise rates sooner than some investors had expected because of a strengthening economy.

"I think the Feds are going to definitely use interest rates as another tool in the arsenal to keep consumer confidence up as well as the equities," he said.

Ilczyszyn also expects that strengthening economies in developing countries like China will boost demand for raw materials.

Overall trading on Thursday was light as many traders had departed for the year.

"The big dogs are out," Ilczyszyn said. "Volume has tapered off."

In other Nymex trading, March silver rose 4.3 cents to $16.845 an ounce, while January platinum rose $7.70 to $1,460 an ounce.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose 8 cents to $79.36 per barrel, its seventh straight advance. Oil briefly rose to $80. The price of a barrel of crude is up 71 percent from the start of the year.

Gasoline futures rose 1.59 cents to $2.0565 a gallon. Heating oil futures rose 2.18 cents to $2.1311 a gallon.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, March wheat futures fell 3.25 cents to $5.415 a bushel. Corn for March delivery rose 0.75 cent to $4.1450 a bushel, while March soybeans advanced 4 cents to $10.485 a bushel.