Oil rose the most in three weeks as the dollar fell against the euro after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the 8.3 percent rate of unemployment in January understates weakness in the U.S. labor market.
Oil for March delivery rose $1.50 to settle at $98.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest one-day gain since Jan. 17. Prices have fallen 42 cents this year.
Crude oil futures: NI CRMKTS
Gold futures jumped the most in a week as the dollar’s drop to the lowest in almost two months bolstered demand for the precious metal as an alternative investment.
Gold for April delivery climbed 1.4 percent to close at $1,748.40 an ounce at 1:40 p.m. on the Comex in New York. After the settlement, the metal reached $1,752.60 in electronic trading. The most-active contract has climbed 12 percent in 2012.
Silver futures for March delivery gained 1.3 percent to $34.194 an ounce on the Comex.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for April delivery jumped 1.5 percent to $1,654.80 an ounce. Palladium futures for March delivery rose 0.5 percent to $709.15 an ounce.
Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS
Natural gas futures declined in New York on speculation that government data will show a smaller-than-normal withdrawal from inventories, boosting a surplus of the fuel over the five- year average.
Natural gas for March delivery fell 7.8 cents to settle at $2.472 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures have declined 17 percent this year, making gas the worst-performing commodity on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of commodities.
U.S. natural gas: NI NUSMKT
Copper futures rebounded in New York as increased optimism that Europe is making progress in efforts to stem its debt crisis bolstered the outlook for metal demand.
Copper futures for March delivery rose 0.3 percent to settle at $3.876 a pound at 1:18 p.m. on the Comex in New York Earlier, the price dropped as much as 1.4 percent amid concern that slowing economic growth in Europe and China would erode demand.
Tin rose 4.1 percent to a six-month high on the LME. Aluminum, nickel and lead also climbed.
Base metals markets: NI BMMKTS
Heating oil surged to a nine-month high as colder weather in Europe boosted gasoil futures, increasing demand for U.S. exports.
March-delivery heating oil rose 2.02 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $3.1909 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the fourth consecutive gain and highest settlement since May 2.
Gasoline for March delivery fell 0.04 cent to settle at $2.9275 on the exchange.
Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, was unchanged at $3.48 yesterday, according to AAA data. Prices were 11 percent above a year earlier.
Oil Product Futures U.S.: NI OPFMKT Gasoline: NI GASOLINE Heating oil: NI HEATOIL
Cotton futures fell the most in almost two months as demand slumped from China, the world’s biggest consumer.
Cotton for March delivery sank 1.8 percent to settle at 94.57 cents a pound at 2:41 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the biggest decline since Dec. 14. The price has plunged 46 percent in the past 12 months.
Orange-juice futures fell to the lowest level in almost three weeks after a citrus group in Brazil, the world’s biggest producer, said that the use of a fungicide banned in the U.S. will be halted.
Orange-juice futures for March delivery fell 2.8 percent to settle at $1.9585 a pound at 2 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the biggest decline for a most-active contract since Jan. 25.
Raw sugar for March delivery fell 0.4 percent to close at 24.4 cents a pound at 1:55 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The commodity climbed 4.3 percent in the previous two sessions.
Arabica-coffee futures for March delivery rose 1 percent to settle at $2.2095 a pound on ICE, capping a fourth straight gain.
Cocoa futures for March delivery added 0.4 percent to $2,273 a ton in New York.
Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS
Wheat futures fell for the third time in four sessions on speculation that wet weather in the U.S. Great Plains will boost the prospects for dry winter crops.
Wheat futures for March delivery fell 0.9 percent to settle at $6.6225 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices are up 1.5 percent this year on speculation dry weather and sub-zero temperatures would hurt crops in parts of Russia and Europe.
Corn fell for a second day and soybeans dropped for the first time in a week as rain improved prospects for crops in Argentina and Brazil that have been hurt by unusually dry weather.
Corn futures for March delivery fell 0.3 percent to close at $6.4225 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, capping the first two-day drop since Jan. 13.
Soybean futures for March delivery fell 0.1 percent to $12.32 a bushel in Chicago, the first drop since Jan. 30. Yesterday, the most-active contract touched $12.44, the highest since Jan. 3.
Grain markets: NI GRMKTS
Cattle futures posted their biggest gain in more than two weeks on speculation that demand for U.S. beef will increase. Hog prices also advanced.
Cattle futures for April delivery gained 0.8 percent to settle at $1.28575 a pound at 2 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Jan. 19. Prices are up 5.9 percent this year.
Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement increased 0.6 percent to $1.55 a pound on the CME, the biggest advance in a week.
Hog futures for April settlement rose 0.6 percent to 89.1 cents a pound in Chicago, halting a three-session slide. Prices are up 5.7 percent this year.
Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS
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