Industrial metals prices fell Monday after manufacturing slowed in the New York area this month, reflecting a sluggish trend across the nation.
Copper, silver, platinum and palladium each fell less than 1 percent.
The Federal Reserve's Empire State Manufacturing Survey found that general business conditions declined in December for a fifth consecutive month. Orders and shipments also fell.
The results mirror a weaker trend in U.S. manufacturing, which shrank in November to the slowest pace since July 2009, according to the Institute for Supply Management.
Company owners have delayed purchases of machinery and equipment because of uncertainty about where the economy may be headed.
There also are worries about demand in China after new Communist Party leaders promised reforms aimed at reducing reliance on exports and increasing spending if needed to promote economic growth. China is a huge importer of raw materials, including copper, oil and soybeans.
Demand for industrial metals largely depends on stimulus measures to help the economy and rebuilding. None of that will start until the first quarter of next year, said George Gero, vice president at RBC Global Futures.
In March metals contracts, silver fell 1.9 cents to finish at $32.28 per ounce, copper dropped 1.7 cents to $3.666 per pound and palladium ended down $3.75 at $698.30 an ounce. January platinum fell $6 to $1,608.50 an ounce.
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