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Copper prices were rallying Thursday on worries that supplies wouldn't be enough to meet demand.

Benchmark futures contracts were ahead 6 cents at $3.42 a pound in morning action on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.


PowerShares DB Base Metals

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exchange-traded fund, which tracks futures prices of aluminum and zinc as well as copper, was ahead by 1%.

"Not only are we entering the bullish post-summer period, but ... stocks are still critically low," writes William Adams, an analyst at

in London, in a daily market brief.

Other market observers noted trading volumes were light as many traders had taken time off to celebrate the Jewish New Year.

Elsewhere in base metals, steelmaker


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said it would likely not meet consensus earnings expectations for the quarter ending in September. Still, the shares were rallying almost 4% after the firm said it would buy

Nelson Steel

for $54 million.

Turning to precious metals, gold prices were sliding again on more profit-taking, with December-dated contracts slipping $6.80 to $713.90 an ounce in recent action, while silver prices were down also, off 20 cents at $12.50 an ounce.

The bullion ETFs, which hold inventories of the metals, were also losing ground. The

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iShares Silver Trust

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were off 0.8% and 1.2%, respectively.

In other commodities, wheat prices were edging up 2 cents to $8.62 a bushel, buoyed by news of strong buying from Japan.

Corn prices were down by 2 cents at $3.55 a bushel, hurt by falling exports of the grain.

Cocoa prices were slipping $22 to $1,807 a ton on news that production of the beans would jump 10% in the 2007-2008 season.