Industrial metals fall on slower growth in China

AP News
Posted: May 11, 2012 4:26 PM
Industrial metals fall on slower growth in China

Industrial metals have ended a bumpy week on a lower note.

Prices for copper, silver, palladium and platinum all fell Friday after new data showed China's economy continued to slow in April. In particular, industrial production expanded less than expected.

The National Bureau of Statistics said China's industrial production expanded 9.3 percent last month compared with a 12 percent increase in March. Investment also slowed more than expected.

China is a huge importer of industrial metals like copper and other commodities. Its economy expanded 8.1 percent in the first quarter, which was the slowest pace since 2009.

Many investors worry that slower growth in China will cause a slump in global demand for commodities such as industrial metals, which are used in a wide range of manufacturing, construction and infrastructure projects. There are signs that China's slowdown is hurting demand for oil, industrial components and consumer goods.

The slower pace of growth in the world's second-largest economy comes as Europe continues to struggle to solve its debt crisis and turn around its economy. The European Union has forecast that a modest recovery later this year in the 17 countries that use the euro if they maintain austerity measures designed to curb spending.

Copper for May delivery fell 4.3 cents to finish at $3.6485 per pound, May silver dropped 27.8 cents to $28.858 per ounce, July platinum declined $22.40 to $1,471.40 an ounce and June palladium ended down $11.95 at $603.40 an ounce.

June gold fell $11.50 to end at $1,584 per ounce.

Oil prices also fell on the China economic news. Benchmark oil dropped 95 cents to end at $96.13 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil declined 1.98 cents to $2.9636 per gallon, gasoline futures fell 0.94 cent to $3.0008 per gallon and natural gas rose 2.2 cents to $2.509 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In July agricultural crop contracts, wheat fell 4.25 cents to $5.97 per bushel; corn dropped 6.5 cents to $5.81 per bushel and soybeans declined 49.25 cents to $14.06 per bushel.


AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach in Shanghai contributed to this report.