Copper led most commodities prices lower Wednesday as the dollar strengthened on building concerns about the Fed's plan to stimulate the economy.
The dollar gained strength Wednesday after the Wall Street Journal said the Fed may buy fewer bonds than anticipated and at a slower pace. The policymakers are expected to make a decision next month.
Many analysts and traders have been expecting the Fed to buy as much as $1 trillion in Treasurys under the "quantitative easing" plan. That has pressured the dollar in recent weeks, which has made many commodities more of a bargain for those using foreign currencies.
Copper and industrial metals also were hurt by a disappointing report on durable goods orders.
The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods rose 3.3 percent last month. Excluding transportation, orders fell 0.8 percent after having gained 1.9 percent in August.
The report also suggested manufacturing activity was moving forward but at a slower pace than earlier in the year.
Copper for December delivery fell 9.35 cents to settle at $3.7755 a pound.
Lind-Waldock market strategist Rich Ilczyszyn said he thinks the movement in copper prices is "giving us a window into potentially what's going to happen next week."
"Copper is a pretty darned good indicator of where we think the S&P may in fact go," he said. "A lot of traders will use the copper as an indicator as to how the stock are going to trade."
In other metals contracts for December, gold fell $16 to settle at $1,322.60 an ounce; silver lost 42.6 cents to $23.404 an ounce and palladium gave up $6.30 to $619.15 an ounce. January platinum dropped $25.90 to settle at $1,678.10 an ounce.
In other trading, energy prices were mixed after the government said commercial crude inventories rose 5 million barrels to 366.2 million barrels. Gasoline inventories, on the other hand, fell 4.4 million barrels.
Benchmark crude for December delivery fell 61 cents to settle at $81.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In Nymex trading in November contracts, heating oil fell 1.17 cents to settle at $2.2383 a gallon while gasoline edged up 0.8 cent to $2.1020 a gallon. Natural gas gave up 6.2 cents to settle at $3.292 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Grains all settled higher.
Wheat for December delivery rose 10.75 cents to $7.0275 a bushel. December corn added 6.25 cents to $5.7725 a bushel and January soybeans gained 5 cents to $12.36 a bushel.