Silver prices rose to another record on Wednesday on lingering speculation about a possible launch of a silver-backed investment product that would make it easier to buy and sell the metal.

Silver hit a peak of $10.37 a troy ounce, which was the highest level in more than
22 years, according to Reuters data. But some dealers claimed the metal traded above $11 in April 1987 and the London silver fix was set at $10.92 on April 27 1987.

Investors are waiting for the Securities and Exchange Commission to rule on the proposed silver-backed exchange-traded fund that Barclays Global Investors has filed with the regulator.

Gold prices were also stronger. Bullion was more than $3 higher at $553.60/$554.20 a troy ounce.

Crude oil prices fell after a larger than expected rise in crude oil inventories in the US, the world’s largest consumer.

IPE Brent for April delivery fell $1.03 to $62.94 a barrel at the close in London, partially reversing the $1.77 rise from the previous session. With the April Brent contract to expire at the close of trade on Thursday, more volume was seen in the May Brent contract, which fell 64 cents to $63.62 a barrel.

April West Texas Intermediate slipped 93 cents to settle at $62.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

US crude stockpiles rose by 4.8m barrels, which was more than the 2.7m barrel increase analysts expected in a Reuters survey. Inventories of distillates, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 3.9m barrels. US gasoline stockpiles fell by 900,000 barrels.

The fall in petroleum products led to a slight fall in US gasoline and heating oil futures, following a sharp rise in the previous session.

Gas traders said that nearby UK gas prices fell sharply on Wednesday, with the day within price quoted at 105p per therm, down from 150p in late trading in the previous session, and down from the record peak of 255p reached during both the Monday and Tuesday sessions. The day within gas price is still up on the week, having ended last Friday at about 60p a therm.

Traders said gas for delivery next week remained at 150p, indicating that the market is still concerned about supplies given the colder than expected weather for this time of year at a time when the UK’s largest gas storage facility is off-line for another six weeks.

The International Coffee Organisation forecast that world coffee output in 2006-7 would stand at 121m 60kg bags, up from 107.15m in 2005-06. Total production in crop year 2005-6 was confirmed at 107.15m bags.

Coffee prices in London and New York were trading at $1,115 a tonne and $1.07 a pound, respectively, just off their three-month lows.

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