Industrial metals gain on manufacturing data

AP News
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Posted: Nov 01, 2010 3:56 PM
Industrial metals gain on manufacturing data

Industrial metals gained Monday on fresh evidence of stronger manufacturing activity in the United States and China.

The manufacturing reports and a third that showed a slight improvement in U.S. construction spending bolstered traders' hopes about the pace of the economic recovery.

Yet most were awaiting the outcome of two key events this week: Tuesday's midterm elections and a decision expected Wednesday from the Federal Reserve about whether to take steps to stimulate the economy.

There have been expectations that the Fed policymakers will start a Treasury-buying program to help stimulate the economy. That could pressure the dollar. As a result, that would make commodities, which are priced in dollars, more appealing to buyers using foreign currencies.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see increased volatility following, maybe not so much the elections, but the Federal Reserve's announcement," CPM Group analyst Carlos Sanchez said.

The Institute for Supply Management said U.S. manufacturing activity expanded last month at its fastest pace since May, helped by more orders for computers and autos, as well as exports.

In addition, construction spending inched higher in September because of an increase in residential activity and government projects that helped offset weakness in commercial projects.

Earlier Monday, China said its manufacturing activity picked up in October as infrastructure projects pushed a jump in new equipment orders.

December copper, which is used in everything from pipes and wiring to consumer electronics, gained 5.15 cents to settle at $3.7850 a pound.

Palladium and platinum, key metals in the manufacture of vehicle catalytic converters, also rose. Palladium for December delivery added $3.60 to settle at $648.70 an ounce while January platinum rose $4.40 to settle at $1,711.50 an ounce.

In other metals contracts, December gold lost $7 to settle at $1,350.60 an ounce and silver slipped 1.2 cents to $24.552 an ounce.

The stronger manufacturing data also benefited most energy contracts.

Benchmark crude for December delivery gained $1.52 to settle at $82.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other December energy contracts on the Nymex, heating oil added 4 cents to settle at $2.2777 a gallon, gasoline gained 3.35 cents to settle at $2.0929 per gallon and natural gas fell 20.6 cents to settle at $3.832 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Meanwhile, grain and bean prices fell. Wheat for December delivery fell 14.75 cents to $7.0250 a bushel and corn lost 4.75 cents to settle at $5.7725 a bushel. January soybeans slipped 1 cent to $12.35 a bushel.