NEW YORK (AP) -- Gold closed at the lowest level in more than five months Wednesday.

Gold for February delivery fell almost 2 percent, losing $31.40 to end at $1,564.10 an ounce. That's the lowest closing price since July 12. Silver fell even more sharply, 5 percent. March silver lost $1.506 to end at $27.234 an ounce.

Gold has been dropping for the last month, partly because of signs that the U.S. economy is growing more strongly than had been expected. Many traders bought gold out of fear of weakness in the U.S., but now money is flowing into riskier investments like stocks.

Gold is down 10 percent from the beginning of December.

In other trading, industrial metals like copper and palladium also fell.

Copper for March delivery fell 4.35 cents to $3.3655 per pound. March palladium lost $19.45 cents to $647.15 an ounce. January platinum fell $46.20 to $1,387.70 an ounce.

Crop prices were mostly higher on worries that dry weather in South America will cut exports from that region. Global corn and soybean supplies are at tight levels, so any drop in production could raise worries of a shortage.

March wheat rose 6.5 cents to finish at $6.5125 per bushel. March corn rose 9.25 cents to $6.425 per bushel.

January soybeans fell 1.5 cents to $12.08 per bushel.

Benchmark crude oil fell $1.98 to finish at $99.36 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil lost 1.47 cents to end at $2.9012 per gallon, gasoline futures fell 3.54 cents to $2.6456 per gallon and natural gas lost 2.8 cents to $3.084 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Copyright 2011 The AP.

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