Copper, silver gain on strong economic report (AP)

Copper and silver prices rose Friday as a strong economic forecast sparked hope that demand for industrial metals would grow next year.

The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators, which measures future economic activity, rose 1.1 percent last month, the biggest increase since March. It was the most recent in a series of reports that have signaled improving pockets of the economy.

Traders also hoped a tax-cut extension package approved by Congress will provide another economic spark, although some are concerned about the $858 billion price tag.

Copper is used in an array of products from electronics to construction materials and vehicles. Silver is used in the manufacture of consumer electronics, batteries and water purification equipment.

In contracts for March delivery, copper for March delivery rose 4.3 cents to settle at $4.159 a pound while silver added 35.1 cents to settle at $29.133 an ounce.

Gold also gained but for other reasons. Traders sought out the precious metal for its reputation as a safe asset to hold during uncertain economic times as concerns resurfaced about Europe’s financial problems.

Moody’s credit ratings agency downgraded Ireland’s debt by five notches and retained a negative outlook. It said it was uncertain whether Ireland could significantly reduce its deficit even after it received a bailout package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

“I think the metals are kind of in a win-win situation,” LaSalle Futures Group analyst Matt Zeman said. “If the economy continues to improve, the metals can still do well on higher risk appetite and investment demand. And if the data start to deteriorate, you’re going to have people looking for safety.”

February gold added $8.20 to settle at $1,379.20 an ounce, March palladium fell $3.95 to settle at $738.60 an ounce and January platinum slipped 10 cents to $1,698.50 an ounce.

Energy contracts were mixed. Benchmark oil for January delivery added 32 cents to settle at $88.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading in January contracts, heating oil dipped 0.26 cent to settle at $2.4737 a gallon, gasoline added 1.35 cents to $2.3178 a gallon and natural gas gained 1.8 cents to $4.066 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Grains and soybeans all rose. March wheat added 7 cents to settle at $7.5675 a bushel. March corn rose 9 cents to $5.9650 a bushel and January soybeans gained 9.75 cents to $12.9875 a bushel.

This news, Copper, silver gain on strong economic report
quoted from US Economy

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