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Commodities slump broadly after employment report

The Associated Press

Gold and other metals fell Friday after news of steady hiring last month raised expectations that the Federal Reserve would start paring its support for the economy.

Gold for delivery in August fell $32.80 to settle at $1,383 an ounce Friday, down 2 percent.

"Gold fell very hard," said James Steel, chief commodities analyst at HSBC in New York. "It was a pretty steep decline across the board."

The government said U.S. employers added 175,000 workers last month, slightly better than forecast. On trading desks, the report gave more support to those who think the Fed will ease back soon on its monthly purchases of bonds. That, in turn, helped push the U.S. dollar and bond yields up Friday. All of these moves drove gold lower, Steel said.

Until this year, the Fed's bond-buying program had helped drive gold prices to record highs. Gold went as high as $1,900 an ounce in August 2011. Many investors thought the bank's efforts to pump money into the financial system would lead to high inflation, so they bought gold as insurance.

In other Friday trading, silver for July sank 96.4 cents to $21.743 an ounce, a 4 percent slump.

Platinum for July lost $26.70 to $1,502.60 an ounce. Palladium for September fell $1.10 to $761.20.

Contracts for agricultural products were mixed. Corn and soybeans rose, while wheat slipped. Soybeans rose 1 cent to $15.2825. Corn added 10.25 cents to $5.585 per bushel.

Wheat lost 1.5 cents to $6.9625 a bushel.

In the market for oil and gas, the jobs report helped drive crude oil above $96 a barrel. U.S. benchmark oil for July delivery gained $1.27, or 1.3 percent, to finish at $96.03 a barrel in New York. Crude oil ended the week with a gain of 4.4 percent.

In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to end at $2.87 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 2 cents to finish at $2.89 per gallon.

— Natural gas was flat at $3.83 per 1,000 cubic feet.