By SANDY SHOREAP Business Writer
The price of copper pushed higher Friday on a bet that it may be one of the first commodities to benefit if the U.S., Europe and China prove successful in building up their economies.
Copper for December delivery rose 12.25 cents, or 3.3 percent, to finish at $3.8325 per pound. The price has increased 12 percent since Aug. 1.
Many investors consider copper a reliable barometer of global economic health because it is used as raw material in a wide range of products, from construction materials and automobiles to consumer products such as cookware.
Authorities in the U.S., Europe and China have approved measures aimed at re-energizing economic growth. Manufacturing has been weak in all three regions while the job markets are anemic in the U.S. and Europe.
The Federal Reserve pledged Thursday to buy billions of dollars of mortgage bonds and to keep interest rates at record lows until mid-2015. Europe's central bank plans to buy unlimited amounts of government bonds to try to resolve the debt crisis. And China is allocating billions of dollars for infrastructure projects.
Copper should be one of the first metals to benefit if manufacturing improves as a result of stronger economic growth, said George Gero, vice president at RBC Global Futures.
"If there is industrial recovery, copper will be one of the first to notice it," he said.
In other trading, gold continued to rise as investors bought contracts as a hedge against inflation. Consumers are paying more for gasoline and some food products because of higher prices on oil, wheat, corn and soybeans.
"Add to that equation the low continued interest rates for the foreseeable future ... it's a recipe for inflation down the road," Gero said.
Gold for December delivery rose 60 cents to end at $1,772.70 per ounce. December silver fell 12.2 cents to $34.656 per ounce, October platinum rose $34.20 to $1,713.70 per ounce, and December palladium gained $10.30 to $699.30.
Other commodities were mostly higher on hopes that the Fed's plan will increase demand.
Benchmark oil rose 69 cents to end at $99 per barrel. Heating oil increased 2.82 cents to $3.2395 per gallon and gasoline gained 5.34 cents to $3.0156 per gallon. Natural gas fell 9.4 cents to $2.943 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In agricultural contracts, December wheat increased 22.25 cents to finish at $9.2425 per bushel, December corn gained 8.25 cents to $7.82 per bushel, and November soybeans fell 8.25 cents to $17.39 per bushel.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.