Natural Gas Prices Jump to 20-Month High: Commodities at Close

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials fell 0.7 percent to 628.26. The UBS Bloomberg CMCI gauge of 26 prices slid 0.1 percent to 1,501.294.

NATURAL GAS

Natural gas futures in New York surged the most in four months, settling at a 20-month high, as cold weather helped erase a stockpile surplus and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its 2013 gas price forecast.

Gas jumped 4.5 percent, the biggest one-day gain since Dec. 5, as MDA Weather Services predicted below-normal temperatures in north-central states next week while Texas and the Southeast will see hotter-than-normal readings April 15-19. Unusually cold March weather pushed supplies below the five-year average for the first time since 2011, and prompted Goldman Sachs to increased its price outlook by 17 percent.

Natural gas for May delivery rose 17.8 cents to $4.125 per million Btu on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement price since Aug. 2, 2011. Prices are up 23 percent this year.

CRUDE OIL

West Texas Intermediate crude capped the biggest weekly drop in six months as U.S. employers hired less than half the number of workers forecast in March, raising concern that economic growth won’t be strong enough to support oil demand.

WTI oil for May delivery dropped 56 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $92.70 a barrel on the Nymex, the lowest settlement since March 21. The 4.7 percent weekly loss was the biggest since Sept. 21.

Brent crude for May settlement declined $2.22, or 2.1 percent, to end the session at $104.12 a barrel on the London- based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the lowest closing price since July 24.

OIL PRODUCTS

Ultra-low sulfur diesel slid to a seven-day low after U.S. employers hired fewer workers in March, boosting concern that economic growth and fuel use are slowing.

Ultra-low-sulfur-diesel for May delivery fell 5.38 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $2.9098 a gallon on the Nymex, the lowest settlement since March 26.

Gasoline for May delivery fell 3.51 cents, or 1.2 percent, to settle at $2.8636 a gallon.

BASE METALS

Copper fell in New York, capping a third straight weekly drop, as weaker-than-estimated U.S. employment figures added to signs that economies are struggling to maintain growth amid swelling inventories of the metal.

Copper futures for delivery in May slid 0.2 percent to settle at $3.344 a pound on the Comex in New York. Prices dropped 1.7 percent this week.

On the LME, copper for delivery in three months slipped 0.5 percent to $7,407 a ton ($3.36 a pound).

Lead, nickel and zinc retreated in London. Aluminum and tin gained.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold rebounded from a 10-month low, gaining the most in five weeks, after U.S. payrolls grew by the least in nine months.

Gold futures for June delivery added 1.5 percent to settle at $1,575.90 an ounce on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain since Feb. 26.

Silver futures for May delivery gained 1.7 percent to $27.22 an ounce in New York, after reaching $26.575 yesterday, the lowest since July 24. Prices fell 3.9 percent this week and entered a bear market on April 1. The precious metal is down 9.9 percent this year.

On the Nymex, platinum futures for July delivery jumped 1.2 percent to $1,535.50 an ounce. Palladium futures for June delivery slipped 0.2 percent to $723.90 an ounce. Prices fell 5.8 percent this week, the biggest decline since May.

SOFT MARKETS

Orange juice climbed to the highest level in 11 months on concern that dry weather and a fruit disease will worsen crop losses in Florida, the world’s second-largest grower. Coffee also rose, while sugar, cocoa and cotton slid.

Orange juice for delivery in May jumped 4.9 percent to settle at $1.4775 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The contract reached $1.484, the highest price for a most-active contract since April 30.

Arabica-coffee futures for May delivery gained 0.5 percent to $1.4015 a pound on ICE, the third straight increase.

Also in New York, raw-sugar futures for delivery in May slid 0.1 percent to 17.65 cents a pound, cocoa futures for May delivery fell 0.4 percent to $2,132 a metric ton, and cotton futures for delivery in May sank 1.7 percent to 86.79 cents a pound as financial markets tumbled.

GRAINS, OILSEEDS

Soybeans fell to a 12-week low on speculation that demand from China, the biggest buyer, will drop as a deadly bird-flu outbreak curbs poultry consumption and imports of crops used as feed. Corn slid, while wheat rose.

Soybean futures for May delivery declined 0.7 percent to settle at $13.6175 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, after touching $13.545, the lowest level for the most-active contract since Jan. 11.

Corn futures for May delivery fell 0.2 percent to $6.29 a bushel in Chicago. The most-active contract fell 9.5 percent this week, the biggest decline since the five days that ended on Oct. 1, 2010.

Wheat futures for delivery in May jumped 0.7 percent to $6.99 a bushel on the CBOT. The price gained 1.6 percent this week, the third increase in four.

LIVESTOCK

Hog futures fell the most in seven months on speculation that slowing economic growth will curb demand for U.S. pork. Cattle also dropped.

Hog futures for June settlement declined 2.5 percent to close at 89.7 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the biggest slump for a most-active contract since Sept. 6. Prices ended the week down 1.5 percent, the first decline in a month.

Cattle futures for June delivery slipped 0.7 percent to $1.215 a pound on the CME, after reaching $1.213, the lowest since March 27. Prices dropped 2.3 percent this week.

Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement fell 1.1 percent to $1.443 a pound, the fourth straight decline.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Murtaugh in Houston at dmurtaugh@bloomberg.net

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

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