Metals prices rise on positive signs for economy

AP News
Posted: Feb 28, 2011 4:17 PM
Metals prices rise on positive signs for economy

Prices rose Monday for metals used in manufacturing as new reports suggested the U.S. economy is improving. Silver, palladium, platinum and copper all settled higher.

The gains are based on a Commerce Department report that says consumer incomes rose last month by the largest amount in nearly two years, thanks partly to a tax cut. However, Americans still are being careful about their spending.

Also, a measure of business strength in the Chicago area hit the highest level since July 1988. The Chicago Business Barometer showed more new orders coming in, improving employment and order backlogs.

The developments left many traders more confident about economic growth despite ongoing clashes in the oil-rich regions of Middle East and North Africa.

"Many have taken the view that ... higher oil prices will likely lead to tempered economic recovery instead of a total derailment of economic recovery," CPM Group analyst Carlos Sanchez said.

Silver, platinum, palladium and copper are used in manufacturing goods including electronics, housing materials and automobiles.

Silver for May delivery rose 89.7 cents to settle at $33.82 an ounce.

In other metals contracts, March copper added 4.2 cents to settle at $4.478 a pound, June palladium gained $12 to $799.60 an ounce, April platinum rose $5.80 to $1,809.20 an ounce and April gold added 60 cents to $1,409.90 an ounce.

Oil prices, meanwhile, settled slightly lower as government and industry officials reported that Libya is still exporting some crude and that leader Moammar Gadhafi has lost control of many of the country's oil fields.

Benchmark oil for March delivery fell 91 cents to settle at $96.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading in March contracts, heating oil fell 0.66 cent to settle at $2.9389 per gallon, gasoline lost 1.59 cents to $2.8927 per gallon and natural gas added 3.2 cents to $4.037 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Grains and beans were mixed. In May contracts, wheat rose 5.75 cents to settle at $8.17 a bushel, corn gained 9 cents to $7.31 a bushel and soybeans fell 10.25 cents to $13.6475 a bushel.