Industrial metal prices are rising as a rally in global stock markets bolsters hope that the economic recovery is gaining steam.
As the economy grows, so does demand for industrial metals like copper, palladium and platinum. Copper for September delivery rose 10.7 cents to settle at $4.442 a pound. October platinum gained $9.60 to settle at $1,433 an ounce and September palladium rose $13.35 to $786.55 an ounce.
Precious metals rallied this year as investors hedged against inflation and tepid economic growth. Industrial metals hadn't fared as well. Copper fell steadily since February, sinking from $4.63 to $4.30 at the start of July.
Now, industrial metals are coming back.
Investors think auto factories will be placing more orders for parts. They also expect that Japan will soon need large amounts of raw materials as rebuilding gains steam following the earthquake and tsunami disaster in March, said George Gero, vice president of RBC Global Futures in New York.
"All of that means using more copper, zinc and lead," Gero said. "So far, the market is focused on the better (job) numbers ... and recovery in Japan."
Payroll processor Automatic Data Processing said Thursday that U.S. companies added 157,000 employees in June, more than double the number economists had forecast. Also, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in seven weeks.
Stock indexes jumped on the news. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1 percent to 1,353, moving within 10 points of its 2011 high reached on April 29.
Gold for August delivery gained $1.40 to settle at $1,530.60 an ounce. September silver climbed 62 cents to settle at $36.536 an ounce.
Wheat for September delivery gained 7.5 cents to settle at $6.345 a bushel, December corn rose 7 cents to $6.155 a bushel and November soybeans rose 19.25 cents to $13.3775 a bushel.
Crude oil for August delivery rose $2.02 to settle at $98.67 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other Nymex contracts, heating oil rose 13.87 cents to settle at $3.102 per gallon, gasoline rose 12.94 cents to $3.127 per gallon and natural gas fell 0.84 cents to $4.138 per 1,000 cubic feet.