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December 24 2012, 07:27AM

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:


Oil prices fell as much as $US2 a barrel on Friday as doubts grew about whether political leaders in Washington could reach a deal on the budget before a package of tax hikes and spending cuts automatically kicks in with the new year.

If Republicans and Democrats don't work out a compromise before January 1, the US could go over the so-called fiscal cliff, a reference to hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases and government spending cuts that take effect if a budget deal is not reached.

Many economists fear that would eventually push the US back into recession, a situation that would likely mean less energy demand.

Benchmark crude for February delivery fell $US1.47 to finish at $US88.66 per barrel in New York, the contract's lowest point in three weeks.

It dropped to $US87.96 per barrel at one point Friday.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, fell $US1.23 to end at $US108.97 per barrel in London.


Investors sent prices for gold, silver and some key agricultural commodities higher on Friday, even as they sent stocks down.

In metals, silver for March delivery rose nearly two per cent, climbing 52.5 cents to $US30.203 an ounce.

February gold was also up, rising $US14.20 to $US1,660.10 per ounce.

Overall it was a quiet day for economic news as Christmas and the New Year's holiday loomed.

With nothing else to follow, investors watched developments in the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington. By Friday, hopes for a pre-Christmas deal had all but faded.

Industrial metals were mixed.

March copper rose 3.1 cents to $US3.567 a pound. March palladium rose $US2.05 to $US682.30 per ounce. January platinum fell $US9.30 to $US1,536.90 per ounce.