Prices of copper futures touched the lows of the week before rallying Thursday at the New York Commodity Exchange, where a strike in Peru and tight supplies remained the major concerns.
In other markets, wheat prices were mixed, corn and soybeans declined, gold and silver prices dipped, cattle prices were mostly lower and hog prices fell. Crude oil and heating oil rallied, but unleaded gasoline prices were mostly lower.
Copper prices continued the slide that began Wednesday on expectations of possible negotiations between striking miners and officials in Peru, one of the world’s major copper producers, but the slide was reversed later in the session, analysts said.
As the session progressed, there were no signs of an imminent settlement to the strike, which could further restrict already tight copper supplies, said Bette Raptopoulous, a metals analyst with Prudential-Bache Securities Inc.
“One of the major producers says if the strike continues, they’ll declare a force majeure ,” a declaration of an inability to deliver supplies, she said, and anticipation of tightening supplies sparked a late flurry of buying. Copper prices settled 0.35 cent to 1.65 cents higher, with October at $1.38 cents a pound.
At the Chicago Board of Trade, word from the U.S. Agriculture Department that China is being offered 550,000 tons of wheat under the export bonus plan sparked buying in the wheat pit, analysts said.
Lid on Prices
But the slide of corn and soybean prices confirmed sentiment that Wednesday’s late rally “was just a bubble,” said Victor Lespinasse, a Chicago trader with Dean Witter Reynolds Inc.
Harvest pressure, lack of demand and improved weather in South America, a major soybean producer, all kept the lid on prices, Lespinasse said.
“The markets are showing their true colors” after Wednesday’s rally, he said.
Wheat settled 0.75 cent lower to 4 cents higher, with the contract for delivery in December at $4.115 a bushel; corn was 2 cents to 5.75 cents lower, with December at $2.7475 a bushel; oats were 3.5 cents to 7.75 cents lower, with December at $2.3225 a bushel, and soybeans were 5 cents to 9 cents lower, with November at $7.59 a bushel.
Cattle prices were mostly lower and hog prices declined in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Reports of good box beef movement added an early firm tone to cattle prices, but they fell on concerns over ample supplies of competitive meats later in the day, said Tom Morgan, president of Sterling Research Corp. of Arlington Heights, Ill.
A weaker cash market sparked selling in the live hog pit, while larger-than-expected movement of pork bellies into storage last week pressured belly prices, he said.
Live cattle prices settled 0.23 cent lower to 0.2 cent higher, with December at 73.67 cents a pound; feeder cattle were 1.05 cents lower to 0.5 cent higher, with October at 81.45 cents a pound; live hogs were 0.05 to 0.53 cent lower, with December at 41.21 cents a pound, and frozen pork bellies were 1.07 to 1.40 cents lower, with February at 48.10 a pound.
Uncertainty Restrains Metals
Trading in gold and silver was quiet at the New York Mercantile Exchange, where traders are moving cautiously in the waning days before the U.S. presidential election, Raptopoulous said.