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AP: Commodities prices dive as dollar surges vs. euro
NEW YORK—Commodities prices plunged Thursday as a rapidly strengthening dollar and more gloomy readings on the economy compelled investors to dump positions in gold, grains and energy.
The dollar climbed to a one-year high against the 15-nation euro after the Senate overwhelmingly voted to approve a revised $700 billion financial bailout plan late Wednesday, sending the measure to the House for an expected vote Friday.
Commodities prices surged to record highs earlier this year as a weak U.S. currency, record oil prices and global economic uncertainty sent investors scrambling to buy hard assets as a safe, alternative investment.
But as the dollar has gained ground, commodities have pulled back in a steep correction that has weighed heavily on gold, oil, corn and other items. The euro dropped to $1.381—its lowest level since Sept. 17, 2007 and well below the euro's level of $1.4061 late Wednesday.
"Commodities are weakening on a stronger dollar and movement of money into other assets," said Tom Pawlicki, commodities analyst with MF Global Research in Chicago.
Thursday's sell-off hit precious metals the hardest.
Gold for December delivery dropped $43, or 4.8 percent, to settle at $844.30 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier dipping as low as $833.50.
December silver shed $1.65, or 12.9 percent, to settle at $11.12 an ounce, while December copper sank 16.2 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $2.6275 a pound.
The bailout package won Senate approval by a 74-25 vote and appeared to be gaining support in the House after the inclusion of tax breaks for businesses and middle-class Americans and other sweeteners. Still, House lawmakers surprised many investors by rejecting the original bailout package Monday, and there were no guarantees that the revised version would win approval.
Either way, energy market traders bet that the emergency rescue plan wouldn't be enough to keep the economy from tipping into recession and further depressing U.S. demand for energy, helping to send crude prices lower.
Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $4.56 to settle at $93.97 a barrel on the Nymex. It was crude's lowest settlement since Sept. 16. The November crude contract fell $2.11 to settle at $98.53 on Wednesday.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures fell 13.74 cents to settle at $2.7095 a gallon, while gasoline futures fell 10.5 cents to settle at $2.255 a gallon.
Meanwhile, more bad economic news raised expectations of a prolonged downturn that will dramatically curb demand for raw materials.
The Labor Department reported that initial claims for jobless benefits increased by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 497,000, well above analysts' estimate of 475,000. And the Commerce Department said factory orders in August plunged by 4 percent compared to July, a much steeper decline than the 2.5 percent drop analysts expected.
The bearish data helped pressure grain prices on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Corn for December delivery fell 30 cents, or 6.2 percent, to settle at $4.54 a bushel, while December wheat shed 33.75 cents, or 5.04 percent, to settle at $6.36 a bushel.
November soybeans lost 49 cents, or 4.65 percent, to settle at $10.04 a bushel.