West Texas Intermediate oil rose the most in almost two weeks after the Federal Reserve said it will keep up its pace of bond buying to spur economic growth and U.S. inventories unexpectedly dropped.
Prices advanced 0.9 percent as the Fed pledged to keep up $85 billion in monthly purchases until “the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially,” according to a statement released at the end of a two-day gathering of policy makers. Most economists in a Bloomberg survey before the meeting forecast the central bank will halt the stimulus in the first half of 2014. Supplies fell for the first time since January.
WTI futures for April delivery, which expired today, rose 80 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $92.96 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest gain since March 7. The more actively traded May contract was up 98 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $93.50. The volume of all futures was 15 percent below the 100- day average for the time of day at 3:46 p.m., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Brent for May settlement increased $1.27, or 1.2 percent, to end the session at $108.72 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. It closed at $107.45 yesterday, the lowest level since Dec. 10. The volume of all futures was 20 percent below the 100-day average. Brent’s premium over the same-month WTI contract was $15.22, up from yesterday’s $14.93.
Crude markets: NI CRMKTS
Gasoline futures advanced, reversing an earlier decline to the lowest level in almost three weeks. Crack spreads widened.
Gasoline for April delivery rose 7.12 cents to settle at $3.1163 a gallon on the Nymex on trading volume that was 21 percent above the 100-day average. The May crack spread versus Brent crude on ICE Futures Europe increased $1.32 to $21.56 a barrel.
Heating oil for April delivery rose 2.8 cents, or 1 percent, to $2.8921 a gallon on volume that was 22 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.
Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 0.5 cent to $3.697 a gallon, AAA said today on its website. Prices have dropped 8.9 cents since reaching a 2013 high of $3.786 on Feb. 26 and are 14.9 cents below a year ago.
Oil-products markets: NI OILPROD
Natural gas futures dropped in New York for the first time in six days as the outlook for milder weather next month signaled reduced demand for the fuel.
Gas for April delivery slipped 0.9 cent to close at $3.96 per million British thermal units on the Nymex. Trading volume was 20 percent above the 100-day average at 2:35 p.m. Prices yesterday jumped to $3.969, the highest settlement price since Sept. 14, 2011. The futures are up 18 percent this year.
The discount of April contracts to October, a gauge of summer demand for gas, eased 0.7 cent from yesterday to 11.3 cents. The spread over the past month has been the narrowest for this time year going back to 2003.
U.S. natural gas: NI NUSMKT
Gas market: NI GASMARKET
Americas natural gas: NI AGASMARKET
European natural gas: NI EGASMARKET
Copper rebounded from the lowest price since August after Morgan Stanley predicted increased demand in China, the world’s biggest user.
Copper futures for delivery in May advanced 1.2 percent to settle at $3.4465 a pound on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain since Feb. 1. Prices yesterday slid to $3.388, the lowest for a most-active contract since Aug. 21.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose 1.2 percent to $7,620 a ton ($3.46 a pound).
Aluminum, nickel, lead and zinc also gained in London. Tin declined.
Base Metal Markets: NI BMMKTS
Gold futures dropped from a three-week high as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy statement.
Gold futures for April delivery fell 0.2 percent to settle at $1,607.50 an ounce on the Comex. Yesterday, the price reached $1,615, the highest for a most-active contract since Feb. 26.
Silver futures for May delivery fell 0.1 percent to $28.817 an ounce on the Comex.
On the Nymex, platinum futures for April delivery rose 1.7 percent to $1,582.50 an ounce, the biggest gain in two months. Volume was more than double the 100-day average.
Palladium futures for June delivery jumped 3.1 percent to $758.20 an ounce, the largest advance since Nov. 13. Yesterday, the price tumbled 3.9 percent, the most since Oct. 23.
Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS
Hog prices climbed for the first time in four sessions on signs of increasing U.S. meatpacker demand for animals. Cattle also rose.
Hog futures for June settlement rose 0.3 percent to close at 88.5 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Prices lost 2.5 percent in the previous three sessions.
Cattle futures for June delivery added 0.8 percent to settle at $1.219 a pound on the CME. The price is down 7.9 percent this year.
Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement slid 0.4 percent to $1.3985 a pound in Chicago.
Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS
Cocoa futures rose the most in more than a week on speculation that supplies will be limited until the start of the next harvest in West Africa. Sugar and coffee climbed, while orange juice and cotton fell.
Cocoa for May delivery jumped 2.5 percent to settle at $2,152 a ton on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since March 8.
Raw-sugar futures for May delivery gained 0.2 percent to 18.35 cents a pound.
Arabica-coffee futures for May delivery rose 0.4 percent to $1.336 a pound. Earlier, the commodity touched $1.324, the lowest since May 2010. The price fell in the previous seven sessions, the longest slump in a month.
Orange-juice futures for May delivery tumbled 3.2 percent to $1.3515 a pound, the biggest drop since March 1.
Cotton futures for May delivery declined 2.2 percent to 89.1 cents a pound.
Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS
Wheat reached a three-week high in Chicago on expectations that the grain’s price discount to corn will boost the amount used to feed livestock in the U.S. Soybeans and corn also rose.
Wheat futures for delivery in May rose 1.9 percent to settle at $7.36 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices earlier reached $7.37, the highest for a most-active contract since Feb. 21.
Soybean futures for May delivery climbed 0.9 percent to $14.1975 a bushel in Chicago, the first gain in seven sessions. Corn futures for delivery in May rebounded from earlier losses, gaining 0.5 percent to $7.325 a bushel on the CBOT, the fifth straight increase.
Grain markets: NI GRMKTS
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