Precious metals futures, led by silver, retreated Friday in uneasy trading preceding the Group of Five meeting this weekend in Washington. In other markets, coffee plunged the limit allowed in daily trading, oil futures were a little higher and the grains and soybeans were mostly higher.
Most of the declines in metals were triggered by technical market factors, led by silver, said Bill O'Neill, research director in New York for Elders Futures. The undertone in silver was weak enough to set off heavy computer-generated selling, he said, and that was transmitted to other markets.
O'Neill said gold also slumped because two factors supporting it on Thursday--a weak stock market and heavy buying by Swiss dealers--were gone on Friday. Also, there was selling by traders to reduce their exposure in the event of unfavorable developments from the weekend meeting by finance ministers of the United States, Japan, West Germany, Britain and France.
Cattle futures were higher while the pork complex was mixed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.