Commodities fell by the most in two weeks as outrage in Cyprus rekindled concern that Europe’s debt crisis may deepen, hurting demand prospects for raw materials from oil to copper. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials fell 0.3 percent to 650.3, the first decline in three days.
Copper fell to a four-month low in New York as a levy on bank deposits in Cyprus stoked concern that Europe’s debt crisis will worsen.
Depositors in Cypriot banks will be forced to share the cost of the latest bailout under an accord reached March 16 by euro-area finance ministers. Copper also slid as inventories tracked by the London Metal Exchange climbed for a 23rd session.
Copper futures for delivery in May tumbled 2.6 percent to settle at $3.428 a pound on the Comex in New York after touching $3.4175, the lowest level since Nov. 9.
On the LME, copper for delivery in three months slumped 2.3 percent to $7,575 a ton ($3.44 a pound).
Aluminum, lead and zinc fell to the lowest since November in London. Nickel and tin also dropped.
Base metals markets: NI BMMKTS
Natural gas climbed for a fourth day in New York, closing at the highest price in almost four months, on speculation that a cold start to spring will buoy demand for heating fuel.
Gas for April delivery rose 1 cent to $3.882 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement price since Nov. 23. Prices earlier jumped to $3.965, the highest intraday price since Oct. 31, 2011. Trading volume was 48 percent above the 100-day average at 2:54 p.m. The futures, which have increased 16 percent this year, last traded at $4 in September 2011.
The discount of April contracts to October, a gauge of summer demand for gas, eased 0.9 cent to 13.2 cents, the narrowest spread for the contracts on record, based on closing prices.
U.S. natural gas: NI NUSMKT
Gas market: NI GASMARKET
Americas natural gas: NI AGASMARKET
European natural gas: NI EGASMARKET
Gold jumped to a two-week high, topping $1,600 an ounce, as concern that Europe’s debt crisis will escalate increased the appeal of the metal as a haven.
Gold futures for April delivery rose 0.8 percent to settle at $1,604.60 on the Comex in New York. Earlier, the metal reached $1,610.40, the highest for a most-active since Feb. 27.
Silver futures for May delivery rose 0.1 percent to $28.874 an ounce on the Comex.
On the Nymex, platinum futures for April delivery fell 0.8 percent to $1,579.20 an ounce.
In the spot market, an ounce of platinum bought as little as 0.9813 ounce of gold, the lowest since Jan. 14.
Palladium futures for June delivery slumped 1.4 percent to $764.85 an ounce on the Nymex, the biggest drop since March 1.
Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS
West Texas Intermediate crude advanced to the highest level in almost a month after European policy makers signaled flexibility on the application of an unprecedented bank tax in Cyprus.
WTI for April delivery rose 29 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $93.74 a barrel on the Nymex, the highest settlement since Feb. 20. It fell to $91.76 earlier. Volume was 4.6 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day at 4 p.m.
Brent for May settlement dropped 31 cents, or 0.3 percent, to end the session at $109.51 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volume was 16 percent below the 100-day average. The European benchmark grade was at a premium of $15.40 to WTI for the same month. That’s down from $16 on March 15 and is the lowest level since January.
Oil markets: NI OILMARKET
Sugar futures fell the most in four months as commodities slumped after Europe’s plan to tax Cyprian bank savings renewed regional-debt concerns. Coffee, cotton, cocoa and orange juice also slid.
Raw sugar for May delivery plunged 3.2 percent to settle at 18.29 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the biggest loss for a most-active contract since Nov. 7. In the past 12 months, the price has tumbled 28 percent, the most among GSCI components
Arabica-coffee futures for May delivery tumbled 2.3 percent to $1.3435 a pound in New York. Earlier, the price touched $1.3405, the lowest since June 2010. The premium versus robusta futures on NYSE Liffe in London fell to 35.65 cents a pound, the lowest since December 2008.
Cotton futures for May delivery fell 1.8 percent to 90.83 cents a pound on ICE, the biggest drop since Jan. 25. Cocoa futures for May delivery slumped 1.3 percent to $2,088 a ton.
Orange-juice futures for May delivery dropped 0.1 percent to $1.3905 a pound.
Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS
Wheat fell the most in more than a week on speculation that farmers will boost production in Russia and Canada. Soybeans also declined, and corn rose.
Wheat futures for delivery in May dropped 1.4 percent to settle at $7.1275 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest loss since March 6.
Soybean futures for delivery in May fell 1.2 percent to $14.095 a bushel in Chicago, retreating for the fifth straight session, the longest slump in a month. Earlier, the oilseed touched $14.0425, the lowest for a most-active contract since Feb. 14.
Corn futures for May delivery gained 0.4 percent to $7.20 a bushel on the CBOT.
Grains markets: NI GRMKTS
Gasoline declined as Brent crude weakened versus West Texas Intermediate and the dollar strengthened amid concern that Europe’s debt crisis may worsen after a levy on Cyprus bank savings.
Gasoline for April delivery fell 3.49 cents to $3.1289 a gallon on the Nymex, the lowest settlement since March 7. Trading volume was 34 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. The contract is for reformulated gasoline to be blended with ethanol, or RBOB.
Heating oil for April delivery fell 1.23 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $2.9267 a gallon on volume that was 14 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.
Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, fell 0.1 cent to $3.685 a gallon, AAA said today on its website. Prices are 15.3 cents below a year ago and have dropped 10.1 cents from the year-to-date high of $3.786 on Feb. 26.
U.S. oil products: NI OPUMKT
Gasoline: NI GASOLINE
Heating oil: NI HEATOIL
Hog futures fell for the second straight session amid speculation that demand for pork is weak. Cattle rose from an eight-month low.
Hog futures for June settlement dropped 0.4 percent to close at 88.95 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Cattle futures for June delivery rose 0.1 percent to settle at $1.21375 a pound on the CME, after touching $1.21025, the lowest price for the most-active contract since July 18.
Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement increased 0.1 percent to close at $1.41175 a pound in Chicago.
Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS