Chile Earthquake Shakes Up World Copper Prices

The massive earthquake that shook Chile sent copper prices up Wednesday.

News that a 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the northern coast of Chile, the world's largest copper producer, pushed copper prices up in early trading. Prices drifted lower as reports trickled out that the country's mining operations escaped major damage.

Copper for May delivery settled at $3.05 a pound, up by a penny. The most actively traded contract reached as high as $3.07.

"They have to make sure the mines are structurally sound and that's a delay in production," said Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at RJ O'Brien & Associates in Chicago. "So, we saw copper prices go up as a result."

Other metals traded higher Wednesday. Gold for delivery in June rose $10.80 to $1,290.80 an ounce. Silver for May delivery rose 36 cents to $20.05 an ounce.

Platinum for July gained $9.10 to $1,438.70 an ounce, and palladium for June gained $5.85 to $787.80 an ounce.

Prices for corn, soybeans and wheat sank. Corn fell 12 cents to settle at $4.96 a bushel.

Soybeans lost 22 cents to settle at $14.62 a bushel, while wheat dropped 16 cents to $6.69 a bushel.

In the market for oil and gas, crude oil dropped 12 cents to $99.62 a barrel.

In other trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline slipped 0.3 of a cent to $2.87 a gallon.

— Heating oil lost 2 cents to $2.87 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 9 cents to $4.36 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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