Corn Leads Grain Plunge on U.S. Inventory: Commodities at Close

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials fell 0.4 percent to settle at 655.05 as of 4 p.m. New York time, led by wheat, corn and soybeans.

The UBS Bloomberg CMCI gauge of 26 prices slid 1 percent to 1,535.74.

Commodity markets in the U.S. will be closed tomorrow for the Good Friday holiday.


Corn plunged the most since May, sparking a slump in soybeans and wheat, after the government said U.S. inventories were bigger than analysts forecast and that farmers will plant the most since 1936.

Inventories of corn on March 1 totaled 5.399 billion bushels in the U.S., the world’s biggest grower and exporter, the Department of Agriculture said today. While that’s down 10 percent from 2012 and a nine-year low, analysts expected 4.995 billion. Farmers will sow 97.282 million acres, up from 97.155 million in 2012 and the most in 77 years, the USDA said.

Corn futures for May delivery plunged by the exchange’s 40-cent limit, or 5.4 percent, to settle at $6.9525 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest decline since May 22 and the lowest price since March 8. Trading was more than triple the average of the past 100 days.

Soybean futures for May delivery tumbled 3.4 percent to $14.0475 a bushel on the CBOT, the biggest drop since Sept. 17.

Wheat futures for May delivery tumbled 6.7 percent to


Natural gas futures fell in New York for the first time in three days, trimming a quarterly gain to 20 percent, on forecasts for moderating temperatures that would curtail heating demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for May delivery fell 4.4 cents to settle at $4.024 per million British thermal units. Trading was 37 percent above the 100-day average. The fuel climbed 15 percent this month, the largest monthly gain since September and capping the fourth straight quarterly increase.

U.K. next-month gas rises 2.8 percent to 75.5 pence a therm, highest price for end of quarter since at least 2004 when


Gold futures fell, capping the longest run of quarterly declines since 2001, as banks in Cyprus reopened, easing concern that Europe’s debt crisis will worsen and curbing demand for haven assets.

On the Comex in New York, gold futures for June delivery slipped 0.7 percent to settle at $1,595.70 an ounce. Prices capped a second straight quarterly drop.

Silver futures for May delivery fell 1 percent to $28.323 an ounce on the Comex, extending this week’s drop to 1.3 percent. Prices lost 6.3 percent this quarter.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, platinum futures for July delivery retreated 0.6 percent to $1,574.60 an ounce. The metal advanced 2.1 percent this year.

Palladium futures for June delivery slipped less than 0.1


West Texas Intermediate oil climbed for a fifth day, capping the longest rally this year, as the U.S. economy grew at a faster pace than previously estimated in the fourth quarter.

On the Nymex, WTI for May delivery gained 65 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $97.23 a barrel, the highest settlement since Feb. 14. The rally since March 21 was the longest since Dec. 20 and brought crude’s advance for the quarter to 5.9 percent. Prices increased 3.8 percent this week, a fourth consecutive rally. They were 5.6 percent higher this month.

Brent for May settlement rose 33 cents, or 0.3 percent, to end the session at $110.02 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices gained 2.2 percent this week. They fell 1.2 percent in March and 1 percent in the quarter.

The European benchmark grade’s premium to WTI shrank $12.79 a barrel, the narrowest since June 25.

North Sea Forties crude dropped to the lowest in more than two years as Vitol Group sold two cargoes of the grade. There were no bids or offers for Russian Urals blend for a second day.

Refiners in Asia will increase imports of West African crude for loading in April as India boosted purchases of Nigerian grades to the most in 10 months while Japan bought a record amount.

India’s BPCL bought one cargo each of Angolan Nemba grade and Nigerian Agabami from Chevron, said two traders with knowledge of matter who asked not to be identified because


Gasoline ended March with the smallest first-quarter gain in five years, as prices dropped below technical support.

On the Nymex, gasoline for April delivery declined 1.01 cents, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $3.1054 a gallon. The more actively traded May contract fell 0.12 cent to $3.1106 a gallon. May’s premium to September gasoline narrowed 1.56 cents to 15.59 cents a gallon.


Copper fell to the lowest in more than a week 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.

On the Comex, copper futures for delivery in May slid 1.2 percent to settle at $3.402 a pound, after touching $3.3965, the lowest since March 20. The metal dropped 1.8 percent this week, a second straight loss. Prices have fallen 6.9 percent this year, the third drop in four quarters, as stockpiles expanded.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell declined 0.9 percent to $7,540 a metric ton ($3.42 a pound).

Aluminum, zinc, lead and nickel were also lower in London,


Raw-sugar futures extended their decline to a 31-month low in New York, after a government report showing bigger U.S. corn stockpiles than forecast dimmed prospects of ethanol imports made from Brazilian cane.

On ICE Futures U.S in New York, sugar for May delivery fell 1.1 percent to settle at 17.66 cents a pound, after touching 17.56 cents, the lowest for a most-active contract since August 2010.

Cotton fell, snapping a two-day rally, after the government said U.S. farmers will plant more than forecast in February. Cotton futures for delivery in May slid 0.1 percent to settle at 88.46 cents a pound on ICE, after rising as much as 2 percent to 90.27 cents. Prices gained 2.2 percent in the previous two days, and ended the quarter up 18 percent, the biggest such increase in two years.

Orange-juice futures for May delivery dropped 1.4 percent to $1.3515 a pound on ICE. Prices still are up 15 percent this year, the biggest quarterly advance since 2009.

Cocoa futures for May delivery advanced 0.9 percent to $2,170 a metric ton on ICE. The price slid 3 percent this year.

Arabica-coffee futures for May delivery rose 0.4 percent to


Cattle futures rose to a two-week high on signs of increasing demand for U.S. beef.

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, cattle for June delivery climbed 1.1 percent to settle at $1.24375 a pound. After the close, the price reached $1.24475, the highest for a most-active contract since March 13. The commodity has dropped 6 percent this year.

On the CME, feeder-cattle futures for May settlement rose by the exchange limit of 3 cents to $1.45075 a pound, the highest since March 13. The 2.1 percent gain was the largest since July 18.

Hog futures for June settlement increased 0.4 percent to

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