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SILVER SLIPS, COTTON PLUNGES IN FUTURES TRADING

SHARE SILVER SLIPS, COTTON PLUNGES IN FUTURES TRADING

Silver futures, weakened by economic factors and a sell-off in gold, retreated Friday at the Commodity Exchange in New York.

On other markets, cotton plunged the limit allowed for daily trading; precious metals, energy futures, corn and soybeans were lower; wheat was higher; and livestock and meat were mixed.The Commodity Research Bureau's index of 21 commodity prices was down 1.90 points at 229.70.

"One of the key factors that hurt silver was the very aggressive producer selling of gold overnight," said William O'Neill, senior futures strategist with Merrill Lynch Futures in New York.

"The producers do not have a long-range constructive view of the market," he said. "So when a little rally developed, they used it as a selling opportunity."

Silver also had trouble with a combination of economic factors, including a "very tame" Consumer Price Index, a surge in bond prices and a 55-cent drop in crude oil, O'Neill said.

The selling accelerated during the day, turning the decline in silver futures into a full retreat.

Gold for delivery in October lost $2.50 and settled at $378.50 a troy ounce; and September silver was 13.3 cents lower at $5.07 a troy ounce.

Cotton futures prices, reacting to a huge USDA production estimate released after the close of trading Thursday, plunged the limit allowed for daily trading on the Cotton Exchange in New York.

The Agriculture Department estimate put the 1994-95 U.S. crop at 19.195 million 480-pound bales, more than 1 million bales higher than what the market was expecting.

Some analysts said the harvest will be large, but no where near the USDA projection.

The October cotton contract was down the two-cent limit at 69.27 cents a pound.

Deterioration of the Australian wheat crop gave wheat futures prices a boost on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Corn and soybeans were mostly lower under weather favorable for finishing off the crops.