Foreign currencies gained substantial strength against the U.S. dollar Monday, supporting precious metals and commodities that comprise major export markets, as investors' faith in the dollar was eroded by the troubles of Ohio savings and loans.
Gold futures prices posted their biggest single-day gain of the year on the Commodity Exchange in New York, and soybean futures rallied on the Chicago Board of Trade.
The Commodity Research Bureau index gained 1.7 points Monday, closing at 240.4. The index, a broad-based measure of commodity prices, was equal to 100 in 1967.
The rally in metals prices was associated with the weakness of the U.S. dollar, which in turn was associated with the uncertainty surrounding the closing of 70 savings and loan institutions in Ohio, said Steve Chronowitz, director of commodity research in New York with Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.
"If the currency traders are concerned that this is not a random event and may tell us something more significant about the banking system, it will certainly weaken the dollar, and then other commodities generally will be aided by the weaker dollar," Chronowitz said.