Copper, palladium up on hopes for growth

AP News
Posted: Dec 22, 2011 3:30 PM
Copper, palladium up on hopes for growth

Copper and palladium prices are rising on hopes that economic growth in the United States is gaining steam.

Copper for March delivery rose 2.1 cents Thursday to $3.4155 per pound. March palladium rose $20.30, or 3.2 percent, to $654.40 an ounce

The metals are used as raw materials to make everything from electronics devices to new housing. Prices rise when investors think economic growth and demand will increase.

Hopes of stronger growth were stoked Thursday when the Department of Labor said the number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since April 2008. If the U.S. job market improves, it could increase consumer spending and boost growth.

In other trading, crop prices were also higher. Crops tend to rise when traders think stronger economic growth will spur demand for both food and crop-based fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. January soybeans rose 8.5 cents to $11.6225 per bushel. That puts soybeans nearly 3 percent higher for the week.

March wheat rose 4.75 cents to finish at $6.2175 per bushel. March corn rose 1 cent to $6.175 per bushel.

Precious metals were lower.

Gold for February delivery fell $3 to end at $1,610.60 an ounce. March silver dropped 20.2 cents to end at $29.047 an ounce. January platinum dropped $7.30 to $1,424.40 an ounce.

Benchmark oil rose 86 cents to finish at $99.53 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil lost 0.11 cents to end at $2.9076 per gallon, gasoline futures rose 1.99 cents to $2.6398 per gallon and natural gas increased 1.4 cents to $3.169 per 1,000 cubic feet.