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Natural Gas Soars, Gold Rises, Grains End Mixed

By The Associated Press

A weak jobs report sent prices for energy and industrial metals lower. Natural gas futures soared, while grains and beans ended mixed.

The Labor Department reported a sharp slowdown in hiring in March.

The government's monthly survey, which found that just 88,000 jobs were added in March, was far weaker than economists were expecting. More people also gave up looking for work.

The bleaker outlook for the U.S. economy sent prices of economically sensitive commodities lower.

U.S. benchmark crude oil fell 56 cents to close at $92.70 in New York Friday. It was the third straight day of declines for oil. Most other energy futures also fell, except for natural gas.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell 5 cents to close at $2.91 per gallon, and wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to close at $2.86 per gallon.

Natural gas jumped 18 cents to close at $4.13 per thousand cubic feet. That's double the price at this time last year, when the nation was emerging from the warmest winter on record.

Natural gas prices have been rising in recent months as cold weather blanketed the country. Half of U.S. homes use natural gas for heating.

Agricultural commodities ended mixed. In May contracts, wheat rose 5 cents to $6.99 a bushel, corn fell a penny to $6.29 a bushel, and soybeans fell 10.25 cents to $13.6175 a bushel.

In metals trading:

â¿¿ April gold rose $23.60 to $1,575.40 an ounce

â¿¿ May silver rose 45.3 cents to $27.22 an ounce

â¿¿ May copper fell 0.75 cents to $3.440 a pound

â¿¿ July platinum rose $17.70 to $1,535.50 an ounce

â¿¿ June palladium fell $1.55 to $723.90 an ounce.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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