Palladium Futures Highest in 28 Months
Undated (AP) _ Palladium futures advanced sharply Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, reflecting a growing conviction that Russia is having trouble filling orders already under contract.
The March delivery of the metal fell just shy of the daily trading limit of $6 an ounce as prices climbed to their highest level since August 1990.
On other markets, livestock and meat futures advanced, the grains were higher while soybeans declined, and energy futures settled lower. Many New York markets traded for shortened hours because of a severe storm that struck the Eastern states.
The question of Russia’s ability to meet its commitments has been in the market for days, but it got a special twist on Friday, said Bernard Savaiko, senior metals analyst at PaineWebber Inc.
He said a South African official was reported saying his country was going to move aggressively to market palladium in Japan, where Russia has been the dominant supplier.
″This is further confirmation of Russia’s problems and an indication that it might be a long-term situation,″ Savaiko said.
Nickel production, of which palladium is a byproduct, was down 15 percent this year in Russia and govenment officials there say there may be another 10 percent decline in the coming year.
The March palladium contract advanced $5.95 and settled at $111.90 a troy ounce, January platinum was $2.90 higher at $366.90 a troy ounce.
At New York’s Commodity Exchange, February gold was $1 higher at $336 a troy ounce; and March silver was 0.3 cent lower at $3.74 a troy ounce.
Storms sent cattle futures prices higher at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, with the two nearby contracts establishing contract highs.
A new storm was forecast for the weekend in the Midwest and traders were wary because of its potential effect on animals in feedlots and on the access to cattle supplies early next week.
Also supporting futures was a strong tone to the wholesale beef market.
The advances in cattle futures spilled over to the pork complex and helped hog and belly prices recover from early losses.
Live cattle for delivery in December were .70 cent higher at 78.42 cents a pound; January feeder cattle were .35 cent higher at 85.50 cents a pound; December hogs were .28 cent higher at 44.60 cents a pound; and February pork bellies were .92 cent higher at 38.12 cents a pound.
Corn and wheat futures advanced Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade, partly reflecting supply-demand data from the Agriculture Department.
The USDA said after the close on Thursday that estimate corn stocks at the end of the crop year would be 2.097 billion bushels, down from 2.154 billion estimated earlier.
Wheat also got a slightly bullish report and some local short-covering on Friday. In short-covering, traders buy contracts to replace borrowed futures that they sold earlier.
Wheat for delivery in December gained 3 3/4 cents and settled at $3.72 a bushel; December corn was 2 1/2 cents higher at $2.12 a bushel; December oats were 1 3/4 cents higher at $1.45 1/4 a bushel; and January soybeans were 1/4 cent lower at $5.71 3/4 a bushel.
Heating oil futures took a nosedive on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and other energy prices also were lower.
Light sweet crude oil for January delivery was 19 cents lower at $19.09 a barrel; January heating oil was 1.19 cents lower at 54.72 cents a gallon; January gasoline was .31 cent lower at 51.75 cents a gallon; and natural gas for delivery in January was 2.5 cents lower at $2.089 per 1,000 cubic feet.