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Copper Market Steadies As Peru Strike Picture Blurs

November 11, 1988

Undated (AP) _ Copper futures prices closed mixed Friday on New York’s Commodity Exchange after a steep morning sell-off as prospects for settlement of a 3 1/2 -week-old nationwide miners’ strike in Peru appeared to diminish.

On other markets, in generally light Veterans’ Day trading, precious metals were mixed; stock-index futures fell sharply; grains and soybeans were mostly lower; energy futures were mixed; cattle futures were lower and pork futures were mixed.

Copper settled 1.65 cents lower to .10 cent higher with the contract for spot delivery at $1.432 a pound and the active December contract at $1.351 a pound.

The December contract’s dramatic recovery from a 5.45-cent decline early in the session suggested the bull market for copper may not be over despite Thursday’s steep losses of nearly 9 cents a pound, analysts said.

″The fact that the market closed so much off its lows today, on Friday, when you normally would get a lot of nervous selling ahead of the weekend, is very constructive,″ said Bernard Savaiko, metals market analyst with PaineWebber Inc. in New York.

Thursday’s decline was sparked by reports that the Southern Peru Copper Co., the largest copper-mining firm in the world’s sixth-largest copper- producing nation, had come to contract terms with some of its non-mining employees.

It appeared on Thursday that a settlement with the miners also was imminent. But on Friday, Southern Peru miners reportedly rejected the company’s offer of substantial wage increases.

″The miners want to have a united front - they want a united mine workers’ union and they want a nationwide settlement,″ Savaiko said.

The Peruvian strike has been a major factor in spot copper’s rise from about $1 a pound in August to the recent record high of $1.538. But copper supplies have been growing tighter for about 1 1/2 years, and that situation is expected to continue.

With the Peruvian picture turning muddy, traders were looking ahead to Monday’s weekly report on London Metal Exchange warehouse stocks of copper.

Savaiko saisd the exchange is expected to report a 5,000- to 7,000-metric- ton decline in its copper stocks in the past week.

Precious metals futures were mixed on the Comex, with gold up moderately and silver slightly lower.

The light activity and narrow trading ranges were surprising in light of the dollar’s weakness and the stock market’s plunge, analysts said.

Gold settled $2.30 to $2.60 higher with December at $423.10 a troy ounce; silver was 2.2 cents lower across the board with December at $6.418 a troy ounce.

Stock-index futures moved sharply lower on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, pressured by the declining dollar and investor concerns about the economy, analysts said.

Standard & Poor’s 500 stock-index futures settled 5.50 points to 5.76 points lower with the December contract at 268.60.

Corn and soybean futures finished substantially lower on the Chicago Board of Trade amid disappointment over the slow pace of export sales of those commodities.

But wheat futures finished mixed on indications of growing foreign demand for U.S. wheat, analysts said.

Wheat settled 3 1/2 cents lower to 1 1/2 cents higher with December at $4.21 3/4 a bushel; corn was 4 3/4 cents lower to 1/2 cent higher with December at $2.69 3/4 a bushel; oats were 2 1/2 cents to 3 3/4 cents lower with December at $2.12 1/4 a bushel; soybeans were 1 1/2 cents to 11 1/2 cents lower with November at $7.61 1/2 a bushel.

Energy futures finished the week mixed on the New York Mercantile Exchange on continuing concern about the OPEC meetings coming up later this month, analysts said.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled 3 cents to 11 cents lower with February at $13.87 a barrel; heating oil was .13 cent to .27 cent higher with December at 44.01 cents a gallon; and unleaded gasoline was .05 cent to .75 cent lower with December at 46.65 cents a gallon.

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, cattle futures were mostly lower on sluggish cash fundamentals and renewed concerns that the European Economic Community would ban imports of U.S. meats containing growth hormones, analysts said.

Hog futures fell on expectations that marketings would increase sharply next week while frozen pork bellies contracts were supported by technical factors.

Live cattle settled .20 cent to .60 cent lower with December at 72.27 cents a pound; feeder cattle were .10 cent lower to .25 cent higher with November at 81.35 cents a pound; hogs were .22 cent lower to .10 cent higher with December at 40.50 cents a pound; and frozen pork bellies were .08 cent to .30 cent higher with February at 44.35 cents a pound.

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