Metals and Agricultural Futures Prices Slip


Oil Ends Week Down 2 Pct on Tepid Demand Outlook

Metals prices ended slightly lower Friday, as did agricultural futures.

Gold for June delivery fell $5.20 to $1,386.60 an ounce. Other metals prices also fell.

July silver fell 1.2 cents to $22.496 an ounce, July platinum fell $5.30 to $1,451.90 an ounce and June palladium fell $12.20 to $726.45 an ounce. July copper fell a penny to $3.2955.

Crop prices were also slightly lower.

In July contracts, wheat fell 5.75 cents to $6.975 a bushel, corn fell 4.75 cents to $6.5725 a bushel and soybeans fell 23.25 cents to $14.7625 a bushel.

The price of oil fell 2 percent this week, as oil traders worried about global demand and shared the stock market’s concerns about possible changes to the Federal Reserve’s economic stimulus program.

The loss Friday was just 10 cents, to $94.15 a barrel. But four straight losses resulted in a weekly decline of $1.87 a barrel for the benchmark oil contract.

The global economic picture was clouded by weak manufacturing data from China. That raised questions about the strength of oil demand in the world’s No. 2 economy. In the U.S., a report from the Energy Department showed the country is well-supplied with oil, and gasoline demand remains below year-ago levels.

One question overhanging the market is what the Federal Reserve’s next moves will be with its monetary policy. Recent comments from Fed policy makers, including Chairman Ben Bernanke, raised concerns that the Fed will scale back its effort to support the economy sooner than traders had expected.

The uncertainty led U.S. stock markets to their first weekly loss in a month. Oil tracked stocks for most of the week, as oil traders looked to their equities counterparts for clues on how to react to the Fed.

Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, rose 20 cents to $102.64 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

  • Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.84 a gallon.
  • Heating oil was flat at $2.86 a gallon.
  • Natural gas fell 2 cents to $4.24 per 1,000 cubic feet.