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Silver drops nearly 5 percent, natural gas gains

The Associated Press

Silver futures led a broad decline in metals prices Thursday, while natural gas prices rose sharply.

Silver for March delivery lost $1.438 to $29.678 an ounce, a decline of 4.6 percent. Other metals also fell.

Metals fell following a strong report on the U.S. economy, which suggested less need for extra stimulus from the Federal Reserve and a stronger dollar.

The Commerce Department raised its estimate of economic growth in the third quarter to 3.1 percent from 2.7 percent.

Gold for February delivery fell $21.80 to $1,645.90 an ounce. Platinum for January delivery fell $46.70 to $1,546.20 an ounce and palladium for March delivery fell $18.10 to $680.25 an ounce. March copper fell 6.95 cents to $3.536 a pound.

In other commodities trading, corn futures ended lower following reports of better weather in Brazil. Energy prices ended higher.

Corn for March delivery fell 6.5 cents to $6.9650 a bushel. March wheat fell 15.25 cents to $7.905 a bushel. January soybeans fell 28.25 cents to $14.0875 a bushel.

Benchmark crude for February delivery ended the day at $90.13 per barrel, up 15 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other energy futures trading:

Natural gas prices gained 14.2 cents, or 4.3 percent, to end at $3.4620 per 1,000 cubic feet after the government reported that the nation's supplies fell last week. Heating oil rose 2.19 cents to finish at $3.0575 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline gained 1.12 cents to end at $2.7543 a gallon.