By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD
Industrial metals prices closed higher Wednesday as strong corporate earnings and an increase in payrolls made investors more optimistic about the U.S. economy.
Metals like copper and palladium are used as raw materials to make everything from electronics to houses. The value of those metals is closely tied to economic growth and demand at global factories.
Metals rallied in tandem with the U.S. stock market. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.5 percent in afternoon trading. Markets were lifted after payroll processor Automatic Data Processing said payrolls rose by 110,000 in October. That's more than economists had expected.
Copper for December delivery rose 7.85 cents, or 2 percent, to settle at $3.581 a pound. December palladium gained $13.65, or 2 percent, at $648.65 an ounce. January platinum rose $19.30 to finish at $1,601.30 an ounce.
At the same time, many companies have been reporting stronger-than-expected earnings this week, indicating that U.S. economic activity is stronger than many analysts thought. MasterCard's stock, for example, rose 6.8 percent after the company said its quarterly earnings soared 38 percent. The results beat analysts' expectations.
Precious metals were also up. December silver rose $1.212, or nearly 4 percent, to close at $33.943 an ounce. December gold gained $17.80, or 1 percent, to settle at $1,729.60 per ounce.
In other trading, crop prices were mostly lower. December wheat lost 6.5 cents to finish at $6.235 per bushel. December corn fell 9.25 cents to end at $6.45 per bushel. November soybeans gained 0.25 cents to finish at $12.0275 a bushel.
Benchmark oil gained 32 cents to end at $92.51 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Heating oil fell 3.72 cents to finish at $3.0007 per gallon, gasoline futures rose 0.28 cents to close at $2.6272 per gallon and natural gas lost 3.8 cents to close at $3.882 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.