Natural Gas, Coffee Drop as Corn Gains: Commodities at Close

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities dropped 1.1 percent to 695.57 at 4:28 p.m. in New York, the lowest level in more than two weeks. Coffee and natural gas lead the decline. Corn was the biggest gainer.

The UBS Bloomberg CMCI index of 26 raw materials fell for a third day by 0.9 percent to 1,609.54 at 4:30 p.m., the lowest since Feb. 17.

NATURAL GAS

Natural gas futures declined in New York after a government report showed the earliest seasonal gain in U.S. inventories since 2007.

Gas dropped 3.9 percent after the Energy Department said U.S. stockpiles expanded by 11 billion cubic feet last week to 2.38 trillion. The five-year average change for the week is a drop of 17 billion cubic feet.

Gas for April delivery fell 9.1 cents to settle at $2.269 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures, down 24 percent this year, fell to $2.204 per million Btu on March 13, the lowest intraday price since February 2002.

CRUDE OIL

Oil fell to a one-week low after manufacturing in the euro area and China contracted this month, signaling that fuel consumption may decline.

Futures dropped 1.8 percent as services and output slipped more than forecast in Europe, according to London-based Markit Economics. A preliminary measure of Chinese industrial activity also decreased. Crude’s decline accelerated as equities retreated and the dollar climbed against the euro.

Crude oil for May delivery fell $1.92 to $105.35 a barrel in New York, the lowest settlement since March 15. Futures are 6.6 percent higher this year.

Brent oil for May settlement declined $1.06, or 0.9 percent, to end the session at $123.14 a barrel on the London- based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark contract’s premium to New York-traded crude widened to $17.79. The spread reached a record $27.88 on Oct. 14.

OIL PRODUCTS

Gasoline fell as U.S. fuel demand declined and manufacturing slowed in Europe and China this month, raising concern that global consumption may drop.

Gasoline for April delivery fell 1.75 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $3.3396 a gallon at 2:15 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the third consecutive decline. Futures have surged 24 percent this year, the best performance in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities.

Heating oil for April delivery fell 3.75 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $3.1787 a gallon, the fourth straight loss. Prices have gained 7.9 percent this year.

Gasoline: NI GASOLINE

Heating oil: NI HEATOIL

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold futures dropped to the lowest level since January as signs of slowing growth from China to Germany sent the dollar higher, curbing demand for the precious metal. Palladium slumped the most this year.

Gold for April delivery fell 0.5 percent to $1,642.50 an ounce on the Comex in New York. Prices are up 4.8 percent this year.

Silver for May delivery tumbled 2.7 percent to $31.345 an ounce on the Comex.

Nymex palladium futures for June delivery declined 5.5 percent to $651.05 an ounce, the biggest drop for a most-active contract since Dec. 14. Platinum for April delivery retreated 1.7 percent to $1,612.10 an ounce.

Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS

BASE METALS

Copper fell the most in two weeks in New York on concern that demand is poised to slow as reports showed manufacturing shrank in Europe and China. Nickel and lead erased gains for the year.

Copper futures for May delivery fell 2.1 percent to settle at $3.7655 a pound on the Comex in New York, the biggest drop since March 6. The metal has gained 9.6 percent this year.

In London, copper for delivery in three months fell 2 percent to $8,290 a metric ton ($3.76 a pound). Nickel declined 1.9 percent to $18,450 a ton, bringing the drop this year to 1.4 percent. Lead fell 3 percent to $1,983 a ton, and is down 2.6 percent in 2012. Aluminum, zinc and tin also fell.

Base metals markets: NI BMMKTS

SOFT COMMODITIES

Sugar rose the most in a week on speculation that mills will delay processing the new crop in Brazil, the world’s top producer. Coffee fell to a 17-month low, and cocoa declined.

Raw sugar for May delivery climbed 2.3 percent to close at 25.91 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

Arabica-coffee futures for May delivery dropped 4.2 percent to $1.7695 a pound on ICE. The price has slumped 22 percent this year as producers and investors sold the beans in anticipation of a record crop in Brazil, the world’s largest grower.

Cocoa futures for May delivery slid 3.1 percent to close at $2,285 a ton in New York, the biggest decline since March 15.

Cotton for May delivery climbed 1.4 percent to close at 89.58 cents a pound at 2:34 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The fiber has tumbled 57 percent in the past year on forecasts for record harvests and rising global inventories.

In London futures trading, white sugar advanced on NYSE Liffe. Robusta coffee and cocoa declined.

Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS

GRAINS, OILSEEDS

Soybeans fell to the lowest level in more than a week on concern that demand will slow as economic growth cools from China to Europe. Corn rose for the first time this week on speculation lower prices may spur overseas demand.

Soybeans for May delivery dropped 0.4 percent to $13.495 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Corn for May delivery rose 0.4 percent to $6.445 a bushel in Chicago.

Wheat for May delivery advanced 1.6 percent to settle at $6.4625 a bushel.

Grain markets: NI GRMKTS

LIVESTOCK

Cattle futures rose for a second straight day after U.S. exporters made their biggest weekly beef sale in 10 years, signaling a rebound in demand. Hogs climbed for the first time in seven sessions.

Cattle futures for June delivery rose 0.2 percent to settle at $1.22175 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The most-active contract is up 7.3 percent in the past year.

Hog futures for June settlement gained 0.7 percent to close at 92.825 cents a pound in Chicago. The price tumbled 3 percent in the previous six sessions.

Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS

To contact the reporter on this story: Naureen S. Malik in New York at nmalik28@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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