The Associated Press February 10, 2012, 4:11PM ET
Commodity prices fell broadly Friday after a plan to fix Greece’s crippling debt crisis suffered a setback, renewing concerns about global economic growth.
Investors sold commodities futures as a precaution in case there are developments over the weekend.
Greece needs a fresh injection of bailout money from the other 16 countries that use the euro. Government leaders crafted a plan to cut government spending but European finance ministers have demanded deeper cuts.
A key vote on the austerity measures is set Sunday in the Greek parliament despite public protests. Without approval of the plan, the country could default on its debt March 20.
Investors are concerned that the lack of an agreement in Greece could hurt neighboring countries and the European economy, which could affect global economic growth and demand for commodities.
Commodities also were hurt because the Greek crisis caused the euro to weaken against the dollar. Since commodities are priced in dollars, a stronger dollar makes them more expensive for buyers who use other currencies.
Gold for April delivery fell $15.90 to end at $1,725.30 an ounce.
In other trading, copper prices declined after preliminary January trade data showed China’s imports declined, Barclays Capital analysts said in a report to clients.
China’s imports of refined copper alloy and products fell 19 percent in January from December’s total. Copper scrap imports also dropped, Barclays Capital said.
China is a huge importer of metals like copper that are used for infrastructure, construction and electronics, among other products.
In March contracts, copper fell 11.65 cents, or 3 percent, to finish at $3.862 per pound, silver declined 31.3 cents to $33.604 per ounce and palladium ended down $8.25 at $703.05 per ounce. April platinum fell $7.80 to end at $1,659.80 an ounce.
Benchmark crude fell $1.17 to finish at $98.67 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil decreased 2.64 cents to finish at $3.1821 per gallon, gasoline futures declined 3.79 cents to $2.9749 per gallon and natural gas was unchanged at $2.477 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In March agriculture contracts, wheat fell 16 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $6.30 per bushel, corn declined 5.25 cents to $6.3175 per bushel and soybeans rose 1.5 cents to $12.29 per bushel.