Copper Prices Continue Easing

Gold falls $2.80 to $672.30 an ounce.
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Copper prices were softening again Wednesday on the back of derivatives-related activity in London.

Benchmark copper contracts were losing 5 cents at $3.39 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Holders of London Metal Exchange option contracts must declare their intention to exercise on the first Wednesday of each month, explains Martin Hayes, an analyst at

BaseMetals.com

.

As a result, there tends to underlying action by the writers of such options hedging their own positions, and in this case the result was a dip in copper prices, he says.

The precious metals also were down marginally. Benchmark gold prices were off $2.80 at $672.30 an ounce, while silver was shedding 13 cents at $13.69 an ounce.

The bullion exchange-traded funds,

streetTracks Gold Shares

(GLD) - Get Report

and the

iShares Silver Trust

(SLV) - Get Report

, were lower by 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively.

Metals trading action should grow increasingly choppy over the next few weeks as the summer vacation season begins in earnest and liquidity wanes.

As for the miners,

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Report

announced that CEO Wayne Murdy would retire, effective July 1. Chief Financial Officer Richard O'Brien will take up the vacated position.

JPMorgan raised its ratings on shares of gold producers

Goldcorp

(GG)

and

Compania de Minas Buenaventura

(BVN) - Get Report

, both to overweight from neutral.

Lundin Mining

(LMC)

has agreed to sell silver output from its Neves-Corvo and Aljustrel mines to Silverstone Resources in exchange for periodic payments to a maximum of $3.90 an ounce of silver, as well as one-time cash payment of $42.5 million and Silverstone stock and warrants.

Elsewhere, South Africa's

Gold Fields

(GFI) - Get Report

said its ore reserves grew 44% to 93.8 million ounces last year. Shares of Gold Fields were down 1.7%.