Metals fall as chances for a budget deal fade

Industrial metals dip as hopes fade that that the US will avoid going over the fiscal cliff

Associated Press

Metal prices dipped on Monday as the likelihood increased that U.S. lawmakers would fail to reach a budget deal to avoid going over the so-called fiscal cliff.

Lawmakers are increasingly skeptical about a possible deal because time is running out before the yearend deadline.

Failure to agree on a budget plan before Jan. 1 would lead to spending cuts and tax hikes that economists predict will push the economy back into recession.

In a quiet trading day before the Christmas holiday, copper for March delivery fell 2 cents to $3.55 a pound. March silver also fell, dropping 30 cents to $29.90 an ounce.

The price of copper moves with the outlook for global economic growth and has dropped almost 3 percent this month.

In other metals trading, gold for February was little changed at $1,659.50 an ounce. Platinum for January delivery fell $2 to $1,534.90 per ounce. Palladium for March delivery gained $2.25 to $684.55.

Crude oil futures prices ended lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The near-month contract for the benchmark grade fell 5 cents — closing at $88.61 a barrel.

In other energy trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange natural gas for January lost 11 cents to finish at $3.4460 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 2 cents to end at $3.0022 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline for January rose 1.59 cents to finish at $2.7506 a gallon.

Agricultural commodities for March delivery were little changed. Wheat rose 2 cents to $7.94 a bushel. Corn gained 2 cents to $7.05. Soybeans fell 7 cents to $14.36.

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