The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities declined 0.8 percent to 652.64 by 5:05 p.m. in London. The UBS Bloomberg CMCI index of 26 raw materials fell 1.1 percent to 1,533.202.
Corn plunged the most in nine months, sparking a slump in soybeans and wheat, after the U.S. government said domestic inventories were bigger than analysts forecast and that farmers will plant the most since 1936.
Inventories of corn on March 1 fell to a nine-year low of 5.399 billion bushels in the U.S., the world’s biggest grower and exporter, mostly because last year’s drought cut output, the Department of Agriculture said today. While that’s down 10 percent from a year earlier, analysts in a Bloomberg survey were expecting a drop to 4.995 billion. Farmers will sow 97.282 million acres, up from 97.155 million in 2012, the USDA said.
Corn futures for May delivery plunged by the exchange’s 40-cent limit, or 5.4 percent, to $6.9525 a bushel in Chicago, heading for the biggest decline since June 12 and the lowest price since March 7. Trading was 171 percent larger than the average of the past 100 days.
Soybean futures for May delivery tumbled 3.1 percent to $14.09 a bushel on the CBOT, heading for the biggest drop since Nov. 12.
March 1 wheat inventories totaled 1.234 billion bushels, up 2.9 percent from 1.199 billion a year earlier, according to the government. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected 1.165 billion, on average. Demand for the grain in livestock rations may total 375 million bushels in the 12 months through May 31, more than double the amount a year earlier, according to the USDA.
Wheat futures for May delivery tumbled 6.9 percent to $6.875 a bushel on the CBOT, heading for the biggest decline since September 2011.
Grains markets: NI GRMKTS
West Texas Intermediate oil fluctuated near a five-week high as the U.S. economy grew at a faster pace than previously estimated in the fourth quarter and more Americans than projected filed applications for unemployment benefits.
WTI for May delivery increased 22 cents to $96.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract advanced yesterday to $96.58, the highest settlement since Feb. 19. The volume of all futures traded was 43 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are up 3.3 percent this week, heading for a fourth consecutive gain. They are 5.2 percent higher this month. The market will be closed tomorrow for Good Friday.
Brent for May settlement fell 33 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $109.36 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The volume of all contracts traded was 20 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are up 1.6 percent this week. They are down 1.8 percent in March and 1.6 percent in the quarter.
Oil markets: NI OILMARKET
Cotton futures rose to a one-week high as demand increased for exports from the U.S., the world’s biggest shipper. Cocoa gained, coffee was little changed, while sugar and orange juice dropped.
Cotton for delivery in May advanced 0.7 percent to 89.17 cents a pound on ICE U.S. Futures in New York. Earlier, the price reached 90.27 cents, the highest for a most-active contract since March 20.
Cocoa futures for May delivery advanced 1.4 percent to $2,180 a metric ton on ICE.
Arabica-coffee futures for May delivery was little changed at $1.3665 a pound.
Raw-sugar futures for May delivery fell 0.8 percent to 17.70 cents a pound.
Orange-juice futures for May delivery dropped 0.9 percent to $1.358 a pound.
Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS
Copper headed for a second straight weekly loss after U.S. jobless claims rose and China tightened rules on wealth-management products, spurring concern that demand in the two biggest global metals users will slow.
Copper futures for delivery in May slid 1.1 percent to $3.407 a pound on the Comex in New York. The metal dropped 0.6 percent this week through yesterday. 2005, exchange figures show.
On the LME, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.8 percent to $7,545 a metric ton.
Aluminum, zinc, lead and nickel were also lower in London, while tin rose. The LME and Comex floor trading will be shut tomorrow for Good Friday. The LME also will be closed April 1 for Easter Monday.
Base metals markets: NI BMMKTS
Cattle rallied to a two-week high on signs of increasing demand for U.S. beef. Hog prices were little changed.
Cattle futures for June delivery climbed 0.6 percent to $1.23675 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after touching $1.2425, the highest for a most-active contract since March 13.
Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement rose 1.1 percent to $1.437 a pound on the CME.
Hog futures for June settlement were little changed, down less than 0.1 percent at 90.65 cents a pound on the CME.
Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS
Gold futures headed for the longest run of quarterly declines in 12 years as banks in Cyprus reopened, easing concern that Europe’s debt crisis will worsen and curbing demand for haven assets.
Gold futures for June delivery slipped 0.6 percent to $1,595.60 an ounce on the Comex in New York. Prices are heading for the second straight quarterly drop.
Silver futures for May delivery fell 0.6 percent to $28.435 an ounce on the Comex, extending this week’s drop to 0.9 percent.
Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS
April gasoline fell, heading for the smallest first-quarter gain in five years, as prices dropped below technical support levels.
Gasoline for April delivery declined 1.3 percent, to $3.0752 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Heating oil for April delivery declined 0.2 percent, to $2.9204 a gallon on the Nymex.
Oil Products Europe: NI OPEMKT Gasoline: NI GASOLINE Heating oil: NI HEATOIL
Natural gas futures fluctuated in New York after a government report showed that U.S. stockpiles fell more than forecast last week.
Natural gas for May delivery rose 0.1 cent to $4.069 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas traded at $4.055 before the storage number was released at 10:30 a.m. in Washington.
U.K. natural gas: NI NUKMKT Gas market: NI GASMARKET Americas natural gas: NI AGASMARKET European natural gas: NI EGASMARKET