Natural Gas Leads Drop as Aluminum Gains: Commodities at Close
Natural gas futures dropped to a 15-week low in New York on speculation that unusually mild weather next week will curtail demand for the heating fuel.
Gas fell 3.3 percent as forecasts from companies including MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland, turned warmer for the eastern and central U.S. through Jan. 18. Gas has dropped 21 percent from a one-year high on Nov. 23 as stockpiles hovered near seasonal records.
Natural gas for February delivery fell 10.5 cents to $3.113 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement price since Sept. 26.
U.S. natural gas: NI NUSMKT
Aluminum gained for a third straight day in London as better-than-expected results from Alcoa Inc. (AA) pointed to stronger metals demand. Tin rose to an 11-month high.
Aluminum demand in China, the top metals user, will climb 11 percent this year, helped by stimulus spending announced by the country’s new leadership, the New York-based company said. Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, reported fourth- quarter sales yesterday that beat analyst estimates.
Aluminum for delivery in three months added 0.4 percent to settle at $2,075 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange. The metal climbed 0.3 percent in the previous two sessions.
Tin for delivery in three months jumped 2 percent to $24,645 a ton.
Copper was unchanged at $8,080 a ton ($3.67 a pound), while nickel rose in London. Lead and zinc slipped.
On the Comex in New York, copper futures for delivery in March fell less than 0.1 percent to $3.6705 a pound, the fifth straight loss. The streak of declines is the longest since the end of October.
Base metals markets: NI BMMKTS
Gold declined for the second time in three days in New York as a stronger dollar eroded appeal of the precious metal as an alternative investment.
Gold futures for February delivery fell 0.4 percent to settle at $1,655.50 an ounce on the Comex. The metal climbed 7 percent last year, a 12th straight annual gain, as the Fed increased its asset purchases.
Silver futures for March delivery fell 0.7 percent to $30.249 an ounce, declining for the first time in three days.
On the Nymex, platinum futures for April delivery gained 1.1 percent to $1,600 an ounce.
Palladium futures for March delivery jumped 3 percent to $688.20 an ounce, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Nov. 13.
Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS
Coffee fell for the second straight day on more signs of higher output in Brazil, the world’s biggest exporter. Cotton also slid, while sugar, cocoa and orange juice rose.
Arabica coffee for March delivery fell 0.2 percent to settle at $1.479 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The price, down 1.5 percent yesterday, has slumped 33 percent in the past 12 months.
Cotton futures for March delivery dropped 0.4 percent to 74.79 cents a pound.
Raw-sugar futures for March delivery rose 0.3 percent to 18.72 cents a pound. Earlier, the price touched 18.52 cents, the lowest level for a most-active contract since Dec. 13.
Cocoa futures for March delivery advanced 0.4 percent to $2,223 a metric ton.
Orange-juice futures for March delivery increased 1.2 percent to $1.107 a pound. Earlier, the price touched $1.091, the lowest level since Nov. 13.
Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS
Corn rose the most in three weeks on speculation that inventories of the biggest U.S. crop fell to the lowest level in nine years after the worst drought since the 1930s. Soybeans declined.
Corn futures for March delivery rose 0.8 percent to close at $6.9425 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain since Dec. 14. The grain reached a record $8.49 on Aug. 10 after drought cut U.S. production to a six-year low.
Soybean futures for March delivery slipped 0.1 percent to $13.855 a bushel on the CBOT.
Grain markets: NI GRMKTS
Oil was little changed after a government report showed that U.S. crude and fuel inventories surged while equities gained on economic optimism.
Crude oil for February delivery settled at $93.10 a barrel on the Nymex. The daily move was the fifth in a row of 20 cents or less, the first time that’s happened since 2002. Oil is up 1 cent this week.
Brent oil for February settlement declined 18 cents to $111.76 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volume was 25 percent above the 100-day average.
Oil markets: NI CRMKTS
Gasoline fell for the first time in three days after the Energy Department said stockpiles of the motor fuel jumped to a 22-month high.
Gasoline for February delivery fell 1.55 cents, or 0.6 percent, to settle at $2.7789 a gallon on the Nymex.
Heating oil for February delivery rose 1.14 cents, or 0.4 percent, to settle at $3.0699 a gallon.
U.S. oil product futures: NI OPFMKT
Hog futures fell the most in four months on speculation that supplies of U.S. pork are outpacing demand. Cattle prices declined.
Hog futures for February settlement slumped 2.5 percent to close at 84.2 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. That marks the biggest drop for a most-active contract since Sept. 6.
Cattle futures for February delivery slid 0.8 percent to settle at $1.3155 a pound on the CME. Last week, prices slipped 0.5 percent, the first drop since Nov. 30.
Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement retreated 0.8 percent to $1.53775 a pound in Chicago.
Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS
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