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Palladium reaches 13-year high as strike continues

June 11, 2014

Palladium settled at its highest price in more than a decade as a mining strike in South Africa continues to pinch production of the metal.

Palladium for September delivery rose $5.60 to settle at $860.15 on Wednesday. That’s the highest settlement price since February 2001, according to FactSet data.

Negotiations to end the nearly five-month strike ended earlier this week without an agreement. The strike started Jan. 23 and has squeezed supplies of the industrial metal, which is used to make catalytic converters that filter car exhaust.

South Africa is the second-largest producer of palladium behind Russia. Speculations that sanctions against Russia could disrupt exports have also pushed up prices.

Other metals were mixed in Wednesday trading. Copper for July slipped a penny to $3.04 a pound. Platinum for July fell $1.10 to $1,481.10 an ounce.

Gold for August rose $1.10 to $1,261.20 an ounce, while silver for July was flat at $19.17.

In other trading, prices for corn and wheat dropped after the U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its forecast for worldwide stockpiles and production of both crops.

Wheat fell 12 cents to settle at $5.89 a bushel. Corn dropped 5 cents to $4.41 while soybeans slipped 17 cents to $14.46.

Warmer weather in the Midwestern U.S., combined with rainfall to parched growing regions, has knocked crop futures down this month. Wheat has dropped 6 percent, and corn has dropped 5 percent.

Crude oil for July delivery rose 5 cents to $104.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $3.00 a gallon.

— Natural gas slipped 2 cents to $4.51 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil added 2 cents to $2.90 a gallon.

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