Manufacturing hopes push metals prices higher

AP News
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Posted: Apr 02, 2012 4:05 PM
Manufacturing hopes push metals prices higher

Metals prices rose Monday, helped by an encouraging report about U.S. manufacturing.

Copper led prices higher, with May copper rising 9.6 cents to $3.921 per pound. Platinum, palladium and silver, which can trade as industrial metals or as precious metals, all rose.

July platinum rose $10.80 to $1,654.90 per ounce, and June palladium rose $4.70 to $658.80 per ounce. May silver increased 61.4 cents to $33.098 an ounce. Palladium and platinum are best known for their use in catalytic converters.

Gold also rose, climbing $8.20 to $1,677.50 per ounce.

Traders appeared to latch on to the closely watched report from the Institute for Supply Management trade group, which said that U.S. manufacturing grew in March at a faster pace than February.

That appeared to outweigh other, less heartening reports about manufacturing, including an HSBC survey of Chinese purchasing managers and a Markit survey of European manufacturing executives that both slipped.

The higher prices could also be a sign that investors are putting their money into metals because they view them as a haven from the falling dollar, said Matthew Schilling, a commodities broker at RJO Futures in Chicago.

Investors also appear to believe that the Federal Reserve could pump more money into the economy, which would drive down the returns of another investment vehicle, Treasury bonds.

"You don't want to hold on to dollars while they're devaluing and everything else is increasing," Schilling said.

Agricultural stocks were mixed. Corn rose 11 cents to $6.55 per bushel, and soybeans rose 18 cents to $14.21 a bushel. Wheat fell slightly, 3.75 cents, to $6.57 per bushel. That followed big jumps for all three on Friday after reports indicating that supplies could remain tight.

Benchmark crude oil climbed $2.21, or 2.15 percent, to $105.23, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the biggest increase since Feb. 21. Factories are big users of diesel fuel, so increased factory activity usually means increased demand for diesel. Brent crude rose by $2.55 cents to $125.43 per barrel in London.

Meanwhile, natural gas futures recovered after falling to a 10-year low. Futures gained 2.6 cents to $2.15 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Heating oil added 8 cents to $3.25 per gallon, and gasoline futures increased by 7.41 cents to $3.3822 per gallon.