Metal prices fell sharply Friday after investors cut their exposure to risky assets.
The pullback was broad-based across commodities and stocks following news that federal regulators filed civil fraud charges against Goldman Sachs over its dealings in the subprime mortgage market.
Traders gave up positions in riskier, more volatile investments and moved into the safety of government-backed bonds and the dollar throughout the day. The ICE Futures US dollar index, which measures the dollar against six currencies, rose 0.5 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 118 points to about 11,026 in afternoon trading. Earlier in the day it dropped more than 170 points.
Gold, silver, copper and palladium all fell more than 2 percent.
June gold fell $23.40, or 2 percent, to settle at $1,136.90 an ounce.
James Steel, an analyst with HSBC in New York, said gold prices had trouble building any momentum above $1,150.00 an ounce in recent days, which made them "ripe to come off recent gains."
The Goldman news and subsequent drop in stocks and commodities gave investors a reason to cash in on a nearly monthlong climb in gold prices. Gold closed as low as $1,088.80 an ounce on March 24.
Silver for May delivery fell 75.8 cents, or 4.3 percent, to settle at $17.675 an ounce. May copper dropped 8.55 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $3.5355 a pound. June palladium tumbled $14.05, or 2.6 percent, to $531.85 an ounce.
July platinum fell $31 to $1,695.30 an ounce.
Steel said declines in metals and oil reinforced the others' drops throughout the day adding to the losses.
"As crude weakened, it notably undermined metals," and vice versa, Steel said.
Benchmark crude for May delivery fell $2.27 to settle at $83.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dipped as low as $82.52 earlier in the trading session.
In other Nymex trading in May contracts, heating oil fell 3.54 cents to $2.2169 a gallon, and gasoline dropped 4.92 cents to $2.2770 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5.4 cents to $4.039 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Wheat, soybean and corn prices were among the few commodities to rise Friday. July wheat contracts rose 9.75 cents to settle at $5.025 a bushel. Soybeans rose 2 cents to $9.95 a bushel, while corn rose 0.25 cents to $3.74 a bushel.
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