Gold Futures Advance as Oil Prices Decline: Commodities at Close

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities fell 1 percent to 652.26 by 4:50 p.m. in London. The UBS Bloomberg CMCI index of 26 raw materials was down 0.4 percent to 1,554.146.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold jumped the most since November as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke defended the U.S. central bank’s asset purchases, boosting demand for bullion as a hedge against stimulus-fueled inflation.

Gold futures for April delivery jumped 1.9 percent to $1,616.30 an ounce on the Comex in New York. A close at this price makes it the biggest jump for a most-active contract since Nov. 6. Trading volume was about 77 percent higher than the average in the past 100 days.

Silver futures for May delivery gained 1.1 percent to $29.37 an ounce in New York, with trading more than twice the 100-day average for this time of day.

Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS

CRUDE OIL

Oil fell to a seven-week low in New York amid estimates that U.S. crude inventories rose and as Italy’s elections stalemate spurred concern that Europe’s debt crisis may worsen.

West Texas Intermediate for April delivery fell 28 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $92.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after declining to $91.92, the lowest intraday level since Jan. 4. Prices have decreased 15 percent in the past year.

Brent for April settlement dropped 99 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $113.45 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volume was 20 percent above the 100-day average. The European benchmark crude’s premium over WTI shrank for the first time in four days to as narrow as $20.58 from yesterday’s $21.33.

Oil markets: NI OILMARKET

NATURAL GAS

Natural gas futures fluctuated near a two-week high in New York amid forecasts of below-normal temperatures that would increase heating-fuel consumption.

Natural gas for March delivery fell 0.7 cent to $3.407 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures are up 34 percent from a year ago. Trading volume was 22 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day.

The March gas contract expires today. The more actively traded April contract slid 2.1 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $3.449 per million Btu.

April $3.50 calls were the most active gas options in electronic trading. They fell 1.3 cents to 9.8 cents per million Btu on volume of 262 contracts. Calls accounted for 53 percent of options volume.

U.K. natural gas: NI NUKMKT Gas market: NI GASMARKET Americas natural gas: NI AGASMARKET European natural gas: NI EGASMARKET

SOFT COMMODITIES

Cocoa futures fell the most in two weeks on concern that persistent debt woes will erode demand in Europe, the world’s biggest chocolate consumer. Sugar and orange juice also slid, while coffee and cotton advanced.

Cocoa for May delivery fell 1.4 percent to $2,112 a metric ton on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. A close at that price would mark the biggest drop for a most-active contract since Feb. 11.

Raw-sugar futures for May delivery slid 0.6 percent to 17.98 cents a pound.

Orange-juice futures for May delivery slumped 2.1 percent to $1.27 a pound, heading for the first decline in a week.

Coffee futures for May delivery gained 0.6 percent to $1.439 a pound. Cotton futures for May delivery advanced 0.1 percent to 81.81 cents a pound.

Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS

BASE METALS

Aluminum fell for a seventh session in London as commodities slid amid concern that the euro-area debt crisis might worsen, following an inconclusive election in Italy.

Aluminum for delivery in three months declined 0.5 percent to $2,027.50 a ton on the London Metal Exchange. Prices earlier touched $2,010, the lowest since Nov. 29.

Copper for three-months delivery rose 0.3 percent to $7,860 a ton ($3.57 a pound) on the LME. Stockpiles monitored by the exchange increased for a ninth session to 438,375 tons, the highest since Oct. 25, 2011.

Zinc, lead and tin climbed in London. Nickel fell.

Base metals markets: NI BMMKTS

GRAINS, OILSEEDS

Wheat futures rebounded from an eight-month low on speculation that the grain’s discount to corn will spur increased use in animal-feed rations. Corn also gained and soybeans were little changed.

Wheat futures for delivery in May rose 0.5 percent to $7.085 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. The grain earlier fell to $6.9775, the lowest since June 25, as snow in the U.S. Great Plains eased drought conditions.

Corn futures for delivery in May climbed 1.2 percent to $6.935 a bushel in Chicago, and soybeans for the same delivery month slid less than 0.1 percent to $14.3475 a bushel.

Grains markets: NI GRMKTS

OIL PRODUCTS

Gasoline in New York tumbled the most since November as Brent crude and refined products in Europe declined. Crack spreads narrowed.

Gasoline for March delivery fell 6.91 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $2.992 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange on volume that was 78 percent above the 100-day average. Prices have dropped five of the past six days after reaching a four- month high on Feb. 15.

Retail gasoline, averaged nationwide, rose 0.5 cent to $3.782 a gallon, the highest level since Oct. 14, AAA said today on its website. The fuel has jumped 15 percent this year to within 15.4 cents of last year’s high of $3.936, according to AAA data.

Heating oil for March delivery fell 3.32 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $3.0657 a gallon on the exchange.

Oil Products Europe: NI OPEMKT Gasoline: NI GASOLINE Heating oil: NI HEATOIL

European Carbon Permits

European Union emission permits dropped 6.6 percent to 4.27 euros a ton.

EU Carbon Emissions: NI ECBMKT

LIVESTOCK

Hog futures declined on speculation that demand for hogs may weaken. Cattle prices also fell.

Hog futures for April settlement declined 0.3 percent to 81.625 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Prices were down 4.5 percent this year through yesterday.

Cattle futures for April delivery slid 0.2 percent to $1.2815 a pound on the CME. Prices fell 2.9 percent this year through yesterday. Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement slumped 0.9 percent to $1.39525 a pound.

Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Larkin in London at nlarkin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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