Natural Gas, Gold Climb; Copper Falls: Commodities at CloseBrian K. Sullivan
The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities fell 1.1 percent to 643.16, led by gasoline. The UBS Bloomberg CMCI index of 26 raw materials dropped 0.5 percent to 1,531.634
West Texas Intermediate oil fell after the Cypriot parliament defeated a measure imposing taxes on bank deposits, bolstering concern that Europe’s debt crisis will deepen. WTI’s discount to Brent crude traded in London narrowed to less than $15 a barrel.
Futures dropped 1.7 percent, trimming the spread with Brent oil, after Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades failed to gain approval of the proposal to raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) from bank depositors to unlock emergency loans. European officials had demanded passage of the plan in return for the funds to prevent a financial collapse. The euro fell to a three-month low versus the dollar.
WTI for April delivery, which expires tomorrow, slid $1.58 to settle at $92.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the biggest drop since Feb. 21. The more-active May contract fell $1.59, or 1.7 percent, to $92.52. The volume of all futures traded was 27 percent above the 100-day average at 4:34 p.m.
Brent oil for May settlement declined $2.06, or 1.9 percent, to end the session at $107.45 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the lowest level since Dec. 10. Volume was 18 percent above the 100-day average.
The premium of the May Brent contract to WTI oil for the same month slipped to $14.93, the least since July 24.
Oil markets: NI OILMARKET
Natural gas futures climbed to an 18-month high in New York as an unusually cold start to spring in the U.S. may bolster demand for the heating fuel.
Gas for April delivery jumped 8.7 cents to $3.969 per million British thermal units on the Nymex, the highest settlement price since Sept. 14, 2011.
Trading volume was 34 percent above the 100-day average at 2:36 p.m. Open interest yesterday rose to 1.32 million contracts, setting a record for a second straight day.
April $4 calls were the most active gas options in electronic trading. They rose 1.8 cents to 5 cents per million Btu on volume of 938 contracts as of 3:03 p.m. Calls accounted for 54 percent of the volume.
Implied volatility for at-the-money options expiring in May was 32.84 percent at 3 p.m., up from 32.32 percent yesterday.
U.S. natural gas: NI NUSMKT
Gas market: NI GASMARKET
Americas natural gas: NI AGASMARKET
European natural gas: NI EGASMARKET
Gasoline fell the most in almost three weeks as Brent crude oil tumbled. Gasoline’s crack spread over WTI narrowed to the lowest level in about a month.
Gasoline for April delivery fell 8.38 cents to $3.0451 a gallon on the Nymex, the lowest settlement since Feb. 28, on trading volume that was 15 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day.
The April crack spread versus WTI narrowed $1.94 to $35.73 a barrel. The May spread against Brent oil on ICE Futures Europe Exchange fell $1.19 to $20.24.
U.S. oil products: NI OPUMKT
Gasoline: NI GASOLINE
Heating oil: NI HEATOIL
Copper futures dropped to the lowest in almost seven months on speculation that European debt turmoil will damp the region’s economy and erode metal demand.
On the Comex in New York, copper futures for delivery in May fell 0.7 percent to close at $3.4055 a pound. After the settlement, the metal touched $3.388, the lowest for a most-active contract since Aug. 21.
On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell 0.6 percent to $7,530 a ton ($3.42 a pound). Lead, nickel and tin declined, aluminum was little changed and zinc gained.
Base Metal Markets: NI BMMKTS
Gold climbed to the highest in three weeks as concern that Europe’s debt crisis may intensify boosted the appeal of the precious metal as a haven. Palladium slumped the most in more than four months.
Gold futures for April delivery rose 0.4 percent to settle at $1,611.30 an ounce on the Comex after touching $1,615, the highest for a most-active contract since Feb. 26.
On the Nymex, palladium futures for June delivery slumped 3.9 percent to $735.20 an ounce, the biggest drop since Oct. 23. Platinum futures for April delivery fell 1.5 percent to $1,555.40 an ounce, after touching $1,549.80, the lowest since Jan. 4.
Silver futures for May delivery slipped 0.1 percent to $28.843 an ounce on the Comex.
In the spot market, an ounce of platinum bought as little as 0.961 ounce of gold, the least since Jan. 9.
Precious metal markets: NI PCMKTS
Corn futures rose to a five-week high as cold, wet weather in the U.S. Midwest hindered fieldwork prior to crop planting. Wheat gained, while soybeans dropped.
Corn futures for May delivery rose 1.2 percent to settle at $7.285 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Earlier, the price reached $7.2875, the highest for a most-active contract since Feb. 6.
Wheat futures for May delivery gained 1.3 percent to $7.22 a bushel.
Soybean futures for May delivery fell 0.2 percent to $14.0675 a bushel. Earlier, the price climbed as much as 0.7 percent. The oilseed dropped for the sixth straight session, the longest slump since September 2011.
Grain markets: NI GRMKTS
Orange-juice futures advanced on mounting concern that dry weather will damage Florida trees already suffering from a crop disease. Cotton, cocoa and sugar also gained, while coffee fell.
Orange juice for delivery in May rose 0.4 percent to settle at $1.3965 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. Earlier, the price reached $1.399, the highest since March 13.
Also in New York, cotton futures for May delivery gained 0.3 percent to 91.13 cents a pound.
Cocoa futures for May delivery jumped 0.5 percent to $2,099 a metric ton on ICE. Raw-sugar futures for May delivery added 0.1 percent to 18.31 cents a pound in New York.
Arabica-coffee futures for delivery in May dropped 0.9 percent to $1.331 a pound on ICE. The premium for arabica beans versus robusta traded on NYSE Liffe in London fell 0.8 percent to 35.35 cents a pound, the lowest since Dec. 15, 2008.
Soft commodities markets: NI SOMKTS
Cattle futures fell to an eight-month low on signs of slowing demand for U.S. beef. Hog prices also dropped.
Cattle futures for June delivery dropped 0.3 percent to close at $1.20975 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after touching $1.201, the lowest for the most-active contract since July 18.
Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement declined 0.5 percent to $1.404 a pound in Chicago.
Hog futures for June settlement fell 0.8 percent to close at 88.275 cents a pound in Chicago. The most-active contract is up 3 percent this year.
Livestock markets: NI LVMKTS