Palladium and platinum surged in light trading Monday as fresh economic news gave traders reason to be more optimistic about the economic recovery.
The two metals led a broad rally across most commodities, a trend helped because the dollar declined against other global currencies, making them more attractive to overseas buyers.
Many overseas markets were closed Monday, contributing to light trading volume. That can exaggerate price movements in some markets like palladium, HSBC analyst James Steel said.
Palladium and platinum are used in the manufacture of catalytic converters for automobiles. Their prices began a steady climb last week as automakers reported improving sales and the Labor Department said 162,000 jobs were created in March.
On Monday, traders became more optimistic that the economic recovery is gaining traction with two new reports showing improving demand in the services sector and for previously occupied homes.
Palladium for June delivery settled up $16.65 at $508 an ounce Monday, exceeding the $500-an-ounce mark for the first time since March 2008, Steel said. April platinum rose $34 to settle at $1,703.80 an ounce.
The ICE Futures US dollar index, which measures the dollar against six currencies, fell 0.25 percent.
Commodities and the dollar typically move in opposite directions. A weaker dollar can make commodities, which are priced in dollars, more attractive for overseas buyers.
Gold for June delivery gained $7.70 to settle at $1,133.80 an ounce. May silver rose 22.8 cents to settle at $18.118 an ounce, while May copper increased 4.75 cents to $3.6315 a pound.
In the energy sector, benchmark crude for May delivery rose $1.75 to $86.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other Nymex trading in May contracts, heating oil rose 5.08 cents to settle at $2.2675 a gallon, and gasoline gained 2.65 cents to settle at $2.3502 a gallon. Natural gas picked up 19.1 cents to settle at $4.277 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The average nationwide retail price for gasoline hit $2.828 per gallon Monday, an increase of 0.2 cent, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. The price has risen 5.2 cents in the past month and now is 78.8 cents higher than a year ago.
Grains ended the day mixed.
In May contracts, soybeans fell 6 cents to $9.36 a bushel and wheat prices fell 1.25 cents to $4.6725 a bushel. Corn rose 1.25 cent to $3.4575 a bushel.
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