By The Associated Press
Prices for industrial metals and oil fell Tuesday, as an earnings warning from FedEx gave traders more concern about a sluggish global economy.
The price of palladium fell more than 3 percent, and platinum was down more than 2 percent. The price of benchmark crude dropped for the second day in a row, down more than 1 percent in the biggest two-day percentage decrease in nearly two months.
Investors were unnerved after shipping company FedEx cut its growth predictions for the fiscal year and said that more customers are ditching express air delivery service for cheaper ground service. Investors pay attention to FedEx because how much companies ship can be an important bellwether of their overall health and the strength of the economy.
When the economy slows, prices for industrial metals and oil usually drop because there's less demand for them in manufacturing, construction, transportation and other aspects of industry.
Palladium for December delivery fell $21.75, or 3.2 percent, to $667.35 per ounce. October platinum fell $36.30, or 2.2 percent, to $1,636.30 per ounce. Hope that protests at South African mines will wind down also contributed to platinum's fall. Strikes there have turned violent as miners have protested for higher wages for more than a month. On Tuesday, one of the mining companies reached a deal with its employees, who were expected to return to work Thursday.
The exception in the industrial metals was December copper, which was virtually flat, down a half-cent to $3.787 per pound.
Gold and silver both rose. December gold's gain was tiny, up 60 cents to $1,771.20 per ounce. December silver's gain was more substantial, rising 35.1 cents, or 1 percent, to $34.718 per ounce.
Energy prices followed industrial metals lower. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.33 to $95.29 per barrel. Brent crude, which helps price international varieties of oil, fell $1.76 to $112.03 per barrel.
Gasoline lost 4.43 cents to $2.8990 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3.63 cents to $3.1271 a gallon. Natural gas gave up 9.2 cents to $2.7730 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Prices for key crops also ended lower. December wheat fell 14.5 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $8.635 per bushel. December corn fell 8 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $7.40 per bushel. November soybeans fell 29 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $16.40 per bushel.
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