Commodities rise on signs of manufacturing growth

AP News
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Posted: Jan 04, 2010 3:37 PM

Commodity prices rose broadly on Monday, led by energy and metals futures, on signs of economic growth, a weakening dollar and a cold weather snap.

Reports pointing to stronger manufacturing activity in the U.S., Europe and China boosted hopes that demand for commodities will rise throughout the year.

Stephen Platt, a futures strategist with Archer Financial Services, said investors are pushing more money into commodities as they reallocate their portfolios at the beginning of the year. Platt said investors are selling off safer assets like government bonds in favor of various kinds of commodities, partly on optimism about more growth in emerging markets.

Platt said energy prices received an incremental lift because of a cold weather snap that has settled over much of the country, which could set off more demand for heating.

In economic news, the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, said Monday its that index of U.S. manufacturing activity rose to 55.9 in December from 53.6 in November, more than economists had expected.

Meanwhile a report out of China said that country's manufacturing sector expanded at the fastest rate in 20 months. In Europe, the monthly purchasing managers' index, a key gauge of manufacturing activity, for the 16 countries that use the euro rose to a 21-month high. A similar survey for Britain rose to a 25-month high.

The dollar also declined against most other major currencies, continuing a months-long trend that has supported commodities prices. Commodities are mainly priced in dollars and become more attractive to non-U.S. investors when the dollar falls.

The ICE Futures US dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of currencies, fell 0.4 percent.

Benchmark crude for February delivery climbed above $80 for the first time in two months, rising $2.15 to settle at $81.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil for February delivery rose 7.49 cents to settle at $2.1905 and gasoline gained 5.15 cents to settle at $2.1044 a gallon. February natural gas jumped nearly 6 percent, adding 31.2 cents to settle at $5.884 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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Cold weather can also hurt supply of some crops, which helped push orange juice and sugar futures higher.

Among metals, gold for February delivery climbed $22.10 to $1,118.30 an ounce.

Copper hit a new record after workers went on strike at Chile's largest copper mine after rejecting a last-minute pay offer from the state mining company Codelco, the world's largest copper producer. Codelco produces about 4 percent of the world's copper.

March copper futures rose 5.95 cents to $3.406 a pound. It climbed as high as $3.429 earlier Monday.

Elsewhere, March wheat futures rose 16.25 cents to $5.5775 a bushel, while corn for March delivery rose 4 cents to $4.185 a bushel. Soybeans rose 9.5 cents to $10.58 a bushel.