Natural gas futures closed at the lowest price since September 2001 after a government report showed little change to a U.S. inventory surplus.
Gas declined 2.3 percent after the Energy Department said U.S. stockpiles expanded by 25 billion cubic feet last week to 2.512 trillion, matching analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. A surplus to the five-year average for the week narrowed to 58 percent from 59 percent the previous week. Supplies increased 42 billion cubic feet a year earlier.
Gas for May delivery fell 4.4 cents to $1.907 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement price since Sept. 26, 2001. Gas has fallen 55 percent over the past year, making it the worst performer on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities.
Gasoline slid to a seven-week low, the fifth straight loss, on speculation the U.S. economic recovery has stalled.
Futures declined as more Americans than forecast filed for jobless claims last week and as sales of existing homes fell for the third time in four months. Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region cooled in April.
Gasoline for May delivery dropped 4.86 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $3.1541 a gallon on the Nymex. Heating oil for May delivery rose 0.69 cent to settle at $3.1251 a gallon on the exchange.
Raw sugar for July delivery dropped 1.1 percent to settle at 21.77 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.
Orange-juice for July delivery rose 1.2 percent to $1.4745 a pound.
Arabica coffee for July delivery rose 0.4 percent to $1.7565 a pound in New York.
Cotton for July delivery gained 0.8 percent to 90.72 cents a pound.
Cocoa for July delivery fell 1 percent to $2,234 a ton.
Oil declined in New York as more Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits and sales of previously owned homes fell, adding to concern that the U.S. recovery is stalling.
Crude oil for May delivery declined 40 cents to $102.27 a barrel on the Nymex, the lowest settlement since April 10.
Brent oil for June settlement increased 3 cents to end the session at $118 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
The European benchmark contract’s front-month premium to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate for June delivery widened for a second day, reaching $15.28.
Cattle futures climbed the most in a week on signs of increasing demand for U.S. beef. Hogs capped the biggest gain in two weeks.
Cattle futures for June delivery rose 0.9 percent to settle at $1.1585 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Hog futures for June settlement increased 1.6 percent to settle at 88.775 cents a pound, the biggest gain since April 5. Prices have climbed 5.3 percent this year.
Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement closed unchanged at $1.55525 a pound.
Corn futures jumped the most this month on signs of rising demand for supplies from the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter. Soybeans and wheat also rose.
Corn futures for July delivery gained 3 percent to close at $6.12 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest advance for a most-active contract since March 30.
Soybean futures for July delivery rose 0.5 percent to $14.21 a bushel, the biggest gain since April 12.
Wheat rose for the first time in a week on speculation that the lowest prices in almost three months will spur demand for the grain as an alternative to corn in livestock feed.
Wheat futures for July delivery advanced 2.3 percent to settle at $6.30 a bushel.
Gold futures rose as the dollar pared gains, boosting demand for the precious metal as an alternative asset. The greenback was little changed against a basket of major currencies after climbing as much as 0.4 percent.
Gold futures for June delivery rose 0.1 percent to settle at $1,641.40 an ounce on the Comex in New York.
Silver futures for May delivery gained 0.9 percent to $31.779 an ounce on the Comex.
Copper dropped for the second straight day on concern that demand is easing in China and the U.S.
Copper futures for July delivery slide 0.1 percent to settle at $3.636 a pound on the Comex.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months was unchanged at $8,050 a metric ton ($3.65 a pound). Zinc, tin, lead and aluminum rose in London. Nickel declined.
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