Most metals rise on manufacturing jobs outlook

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Most metals prices rose Friday after a new report offered a positive outlook for the manufacturing industry.

The Labor Department said manufacturers added 49,000 workers in January, the most since August 1998. It came days after the Institute of Supply Management trade group said that January was the best month in nearly seven years for factory production.

IG Capital Markets CEO Dan Cook said the combination of news buoyed expectations that demand will increase for metals such as copper and silver, which are used in a variety of products from consumer electronics to car batteries and construction materials.

In contracts for March delivery, silver rose 33.1 cents to settle at $29.059 an ounce and copper added 3.5 cents to settle at $4.5795 a pound. April platinum gained $1.70 to settle at $1,845.80 an ounce

March palladium fell $4.10 to settle at $816.45 an ounce and April gold lost $4 to settle at $1,349 an ounce.

The broader Labor Department report on jobs and unemployment offered a mixed message that hurt some commodity prices.

While the unemployment rate dropped last month to 9 percent, a separate survey showed only 36,000 net job gains across all industries – barely a quarter of the number needed to keep pace with population growth.

Oil prices fell as traders monitored the ongoing protests in Egypt and the dollar’s movement.

Egypt controls the Suez Canal and a nearby pipeline that together carry about 2 million barrels of day from the Middle East to customers in Europe and America. That’s a relatively small amount, compared with the 87 million barrels consumed worldwide every day.

Petroleum continues to move through the canal and the pipeline, but traders fear protests could spread to nearby OPEC countries and disrupt supplies.

Meanwhile, the dollar grew stronger against other currencies, which prompted some investors to move their money into equities and other assets, analyst Matt Zeman of LaSalle Futures Group said.

Commodities are priced in dollars so a stronger dollar makes them more expensive for buyers who use other currencies.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery fell $1.51 to settle at $89.03 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude gave up $1.93 to settle at $99.83 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In other Nymex trading for March contracts, heating oil fell 5.07 cents to settle at $2.7167 per gallon, gasoline futures gave up 6.81 cents to settle at $2.4353 per gallon and natural gas lost 2.7 cents to settle at $4.310 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In other trading, grains and beans settled lower. March wheat gave up 5.25 cents to settle at $8.5375 a bushel, corn rose 16 cents to settle at $6.7850 a bushel and soybeans slipped 2 cents to settle at $14.3350 a bushel.