Oil for May delivery gained as much as 82 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $103.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $103.27 at 2:57 p.m. Singapore time, up 4.5 percent for the first quarter. That would follow a gain of 25 percent in the last quarter of 2011.
Prices slumped yesterday to $102.78, the lowest close since Feb. 16. West Texas Intermediate futures are down 3.3 percent this week for a third weekly decline, the longest losing streak since August.
Natural gas futures fell, extending a 10-year low, after a government report that showed U.S. inventories climbed more than expected last week.
Gas slid as much as 1.7 percent, adding to yesterday’s 5.8 percent decline, after the Energy Department yesterday said inventories rose 57 billion cubic feet in the week ended March 23 to 2.437 trillion cubic feet. Analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg showed an expected gain of 48 billion. Mild winter weather and record production have sent prices down 29 percent this year.
Singapore gasoil’s premium to Dubai crude fell 2.1 percent to $15.69 a barrel at 2:10 p.m. Singapore time, according to data from PVM Oil Associates Ltd., a broker. The spread has gained 4.6 percent so far this week, the biggest increase since the period ending Jan. 6. Gasoil, or diesel, swaps for April fell 1.1 percent to $135.20 a barrel today. Prices are down 0.6 percent this week. Singapore fuel oil’s discount to Dubai crude, a measure of refining losses from the fuel in Asia, widened to $6.24 a barrel from $5.70 yesterday, PVM data showed. The spread has narrowed 2.3 percent this week and 14 percent in March. High-sulfur fuel oil swaps fell 1.4 percent to $736.25 a ton today. Prices are down 1.1 percent this week.
Gold may drop, paring a quarterly advance, amid concern that slowing economic growth in China may cut prospects for commodities. Silver is poised for the first three-month gain in a year.
Spot gold traded little changed at $1,662.93 an ounce at 3 p.m. in Singapore after three days of losses, putting the quarterly advance at 6.4 percent. Bullion for June delivery gained 0.6 percent to $1,664.70 on the Comex in New York. the Bombay Bullion Association said on March 26.
Silver gained as much as 0.4 percent to $32.3675 before trading at $32.3275. The metal has gained 16 percent this quarter, set for the first gain since the three months to March 31, 2011. Spot platinum, set for the best quarter in three years, gained 0.6 percent to $1,637.99 an ounce. The metal used in auto catalysts has rallied 17 percent this quarter on supply disruptions in South Africa and prospects for increased demand.
Copper headed for the biggest quarterly gain since the end of 2010 after rising demand pared global stockpiles. Tin was poised to end quarter as the best performer among the six industrial metals on limited supplies.
Three-month copper rose as much as 1.1 percent to $8,440 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange and traded at $8,427 by 4:44 p.m. Tokyo time. The metal has risen 11 percent this quarter, the most since the three months ended Dec. 31, 2010. It fell 21 percent last year.
May-delivery metal climbed 0.8 percent to $3.825 a pound on Comex in New York. Copper for delivery in July on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.6 percent to end at 60,100 yuan ($9,542) a ton, gaining for the first time in three days.
GRAINS, SOFT COMMODITIES
Soybeans rose, heading for the biggest quarterly advance in more than a year, on speculation that demand for U.S. exports will rise as production declines in South America.
The May-delivery contract climbed as much as 0.5 percent to $13.6275 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Futures traded at $13.5975 a bushel at 2:53 p.m. Singapore time, taking the quarterly gain to 13 percent, the biggest increase since the three months to Dec. 31, 2010.
Corn for May delivery gained 0.4 percent to $6.0625 a bushel, paring the quarterly loss for the most-active contract to 6.2 percent. Wheat for May delivery rose 0.6 percent to $6.16 a bushel, trimming the quarterly decline for the most-active contract to 5.6 percent.
Rubber declined, paring the best rally in five quarters, after data showed Japan’s industrial production unexpectedly dropped last month, raising concern demand may weaken for the commodity used in tires.
September-delivery rubber lost 1 percent to end at 325.7 yen a kilogram ($3,966 a metric ton), the lowest settlement level since March 7, on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange. The most- active contract has advanced 24 percent this quarter, set for the best rally since the three months ended Dec. 31, 2010.
Palm oil dropped to a one-week low, paring a second quarterly gain, on concern that an economic slowdown in China, the world’s biggest cooking oil importer, may curtail demand.
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