Oil Jumps to Nine-Month High on U.S. Jobs: Commodities at Close

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities rose 0.7 percent to 707.74 at 3:58 p.m. in New York, the highest settlement since June 9. The UBS Bloomberg CMCI index of 26 raw materials was up 0.2 percent at 1,644.332.

CRUDE OIL

Oil rose to the highest level in more than nine months as jobless claims held at a four-year low in the U.S. and German business confidence surpassed forecasts.

Crude increased for a sixth day after the Labor Department reported applications for jobless benefits were unchanged last week at 351,000, the fewest since March 2008. The growth in German confidence eased concern that the region’s largest economy would be affected by the European debt crisis.

Crude oil for April delivery rose $1.55, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $107.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest since May 5.

Brent oil for April settlement rose 72 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $123.62 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

Crude oil futures: NI CRMKTS

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold futures rose to a three-month high as the dollar’s drop spurred demand for the precious metal as an alternative investment. Silver jumped to a 16-week high.

The greenback fell the most in two weeks against a basket of currencies. German business confidence climbed to the highest in seven months in February, and the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week held at a four-year low.

Gold futures for April delivery gained 0.8 percent to settle at $1,786.30 an ounce at 2:04 p.m. on the Comex in New York.

Silver futures for May delivery advanced 3.8 percent to $35.636 an ounce, the biggest gain since Jan. 20.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for April delivery gained 0.1 percent to $1,723 an ounce. Palladium futures for March delivery climbed 0.1 percent to $718.40 an ounce.

Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS

BASE METALS

Copper dropped for the second straight day on speculation that a slowdown in China, the world’s biggest consumer, will crimp demand for the industrial metal.

Copper futures for May delivery fell 0.7 percent to $3.814 a pound on the Comex in New York, following yesterday’s 0.1 percent decline. Last week, prices slumped 3.8 percent.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months dropped 0.5 percent to $8,390 a metric ton ($3.80 a pound).

Aluminum, zinc and nickel declined, while tin and lead rose on the LME.

Base metals markets: NI BMMKTS

SOFT COMMODITIES

Cotton fell to the lowest price this year amid concern that demand will ebb as Europe’s debt crisis crimps global growth. Orange juice climbed.

The 17-nation euro economy will contract 0.3 percent in 2012, the European Commission said today, abandoning a November forecast for 0.5 percent growth. World cotton consumption will fall 4.3 percent in the year ending July 31, the second straight drop, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast.

Cotton for May delivery dropped 1.4 percent to close at 89.23 cents a pound at 2:32 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

Orange-juice futures for May delivery climbed 2.8 percent to $1.838 a pound in New York, the biggest gain since Jan. 23. The commodity has advanced 8.8 percent this year.

Cocoa for May delivery fell 3.9 percent to settle at $2,344 a ton at noon on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the biggest drop for a most-active contract since Jan. 30. The commodity has fallen 35 percent in the past 12 months.

Arabica-coffee futures for May delivery climbed 0.1 percent to $2.0205 a pound on ICE. The price has dropped 25 percent in the past year.

Raw-sugar futures for May delivery rose 0.6 percent to 24.86 cents a pound in New York, the sixth consecutive advance.

In London futures trading, cocoa fell, while robusta coffee and refined sugar gained on NYSE Liffe.

Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS

NATURAL GAS

Natural gas futures declined in New York after a government report showed that U.S. stockpiles fell less than expected last week.

Gas declined 0.8 percent after the Energy Department said supplies declined 166 billion cubic feet in the week ended Feb. 17 to 2.595 trillion cubic feet. Analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg showed an expected withdrawal of 170 billion.

Natural gas for March delivery fell 2.2 cents to settle at $2.621 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Americas natural gas: NI AGASMARKET

GRAINS, OILSEEDS

Soybeans rallied to a five-month high on speculation that reduced production in South America because of hot, dry weather will mean increased demand for supplies from the U.S., the world’s biggest producer.

Soybean futures for May delivery rose 0.4 percent to close at $12.835 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the eighth gain in nine sessions.

U.S. soybean production last year was valued at $35.8 billion, the largest crop after corn, government figures show.

Corn futures for May delivery fell 0.2 percent to $6.425 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat futures fell 0.7 percent to $6.41 a bushel.

Grain markets: NI GRMKTS

OIL PRODUCTS

Gasoline futures advanced after the Energy Department reported an unexpected decline in stockpiles last week.

March-delivery gasoline gained 2.59 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $3.1136 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Inventories fell 649,000 barrels to 231.5 million, the department said. It was the first decline in four weeks.

Heating oil for March delivery rose 2.25 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $3.2949 a gallon.

Gasoline: NI GASOLINE

Heating oil: NI HEATOIL

LIVESTOCK

Hogs prices dropped to a one-week low as increasing U.S. stockpiles of pork signaled slowing demand. Cattle capped the biggest loss in almost three weeks.

Warehouses held 584.4 million pounds of pork at the end of January, up 8.5 percent from 538.8 million a year earlier and 21 percent larger than at the end of December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report released after the close of trading yesterday.

Hog futures for April settlement fell 0.8 percent to settle at 89.6 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The commodity has gained 6.3 percent this year.

Cattle futures for April delivery dropped 1.1 percent to $1.29675 a pound on the CME, marking the biggest decline for the most-active contract since Feb. 3. Yesterday, the price reached $1.315, the highest for a most-active contract since the commodity started trading on the CME in 1964.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement declined 0.5 percent to $1.5765 a pound.

Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS

To contact the reporter on this story: Gene Laverty in Calgary at glaverty@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bill Banker at bbanker@bloomberg.net

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