Commodities retreat as dollar grows stronger

AP News
Posted: Oct 21, 2010 4:20 PM
Commodities retreat as dollar grows stronger

Commodity prices retreated across the board Thursday as the dollar grew stronger and investors opted to sell some of their holdings for a profit.

Investors and traders also seem to be cautious ahead of next month's decision from the Federal Reserve about whether to take steps to stimulate the economy, such as buying bonds.

Many investors are debating the scale of the Fed's stimulus plans and debating whether they have already been fully priced into commodities markets, LaSalle Futures Group analyst Matt Zeman said.

"I think you have a lot of people going to the sidelines ahead of this," he said.

Commodity prices have been volatile in recent weeks, trading largely on movements in the dollar.

The ICE Futures US dollar index, which measures the dollar against six other currencies, was up 0.35 percentage point by late afternoon. Since commodities are priced in dollars, a stronger dollar makes them less attractive to buyers who use foreign currencies.

Another factor that pressured commodities was news that China's robust growth slowed in the latest quarter, which could mean diminished demand for raw materials such as oil, metals and soybeans.

The country's economy grew 9.6 percent from July to September compared to the same period a year ago. That compared with 10.3 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Metals, energy contracts and grains all settled lower.

Gold for December delivery fell $18.60 to settle at $1,325.60 an ounce.

In other metals contracts for December, silver lost 72.5 cents to settle at $23.139 an ounce; copper slipped 1.2 cents to $3.7815 a pound and palladium fell $4.35 to $586.30 an ounce. January platinum fell $13.90 to settle at $1,673.40 a pound.

Benchmark crude for December delivery gave up $1.98 to $80.56 a barrel.

In Nymex trading in November contracts, heating oil fell 4.03 cents to settle at $2.2145 a gallon, gasoline gave up 4.16 cents at $2.0410 a gallon and natural gas fell 17.1 cents to $3.368 per 1,000 cubic feet.

January soybeans fell 10.75 cents to settle at $12.13 a bushel.

In grains contracts for December, corn lost 9.25 cents to settle at $5.6425 a bushel and wheat gave up 14.25 cents to settle at $6.6875 a bushel.