COMMODITIES-Oil, metals mostly up as focus turns to China growth

Mon Dec 3, 2012 10:33pm IST

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* Chinese, US data move attention away from 'fiscal cliff'
    * Dollar's 6-week low against euro also boosts commodities

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Oil and metals futures mostly
rose on Monday as stronger growth in China and positive U.S.
factory data helped markets override concerns about the U.S.
"fiscal cliff" that had dampened sentiment for weeks.
    Crop prices shot up too, with soybeans and corn 
touching three-week highs on expectations of more buying from
China. Wheat recouped some of the previous session's loss
on news of a sale of U.S.-grown wheat to Egypt. 
    A weaker dollar also boosted appetite among holders of the
euro for commodities priced in the U.S. currency. 
    The euro hit a six-week high after German Chancellor Angela
Merkel said on Sunday Greece's creditors may look at writing
down more of the country's debt - a move that made Athens'
burden, and Europe's debt as a whole, seem more manageable.
 
    Spain formally requested the disbursement of more than $50
billion of European funds to recapitalize its crippled banking
sector, while Greece said it would spend 10 billion euros ($13
billion) to buy back bonds in an effort to reduce its debt.
 
    By 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT), the 19-commodity Thomson
Reuters-Jefferies CRB index rose 0.6 percent, extending
its 1 percent runup from Friday, as investor focus turned from
the stalemate over U.S. fiscal talks in Congress to vibrant data
flowing out of China.
    The pace of activity in China's manufacturing sector
quickened for the first time in 13 months in November, a survey
of private factory managers found, adding to evidence that the
No. 2 economy is reviving after seven quarters of slowing
growth. 
    Adding to the bullish sentiment, Markit's U.S. Purchasing
Managers Index for the manufacturing sector rose in November.
 
    
    OIL SCALES 2-WEEK HIGHS
    Over the last two weeks, markets had been more concerned by
fears that opposing lawmakers in Congress would fail to agree
before a Dec. 31 deadline on averting some $600 billion in tax
increases and spending reductions due to kick in next year.
    The measures - known as the fiscal cliff - could push the
U.S. economy into recession, economists warn.
    "The fiscal cliff would be a constant worry as we approach
the deadline (but) I think we will have further rallies into
year-end based on China in particular," said Robin Bhar, a base
metals analyst in London for Societe Generale.
    U.S. crude oil was up 0.2 percent at above $89 per
barrel, after hitting a two-week high at $90.33.
    Benchmark Brent crude in London was off 0.2 percent
at above $110 a barrel after scaling $112.33 - its highest since
Oct. 19. 
    
    COPPER AT 6-WEEK PEAKS, GOLD UP TOO
    Copper prices hit six-week highs.
    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange 
reached $8,045 a tonne, the highest since Oct. 19, before
receding to a last bid of $8,010 in official midday rings,
versus Friday's close of $7,994.  
    Analysts said they expected LME copper to extend its advance
on chart-based buying after the market last week broke above the
200-day moving average of around $7,905. Prices of the base
metal have rallied almost 7 percent from a more than two-month
low hit in November. 
    Gold prices also firmed, in line with the higher stock
markets and euro.
    The spot price of bullion inched up 0.06 percent to
$1,715.96 an ounce, after dropping a slight 0.3 percent in
November. 
    
 Prices at 11:25 a.m. EST (1625 GMT)                       
 
                              LAST      NET    PCT     YTD
                                        CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    89.05     0.15   0.2%   -9.9%
 Brent crude                110.92    -0.31  -0.3%    3.3%
 Natural gas                 3.616    0.055   1.5%   21.0%
 
 US gold                   1714.60     3.70   0.2%    9.4%
 Gold                      1713.94    -0.95  -0.1%    9.6%
 US Copper                  363.05     0.10   0.0%    5.7%
 LME Copper                8002.00     7.00   0.1%    5.3%
 Dollar                     79.853   -0.300  -0.4%   -0.4%
 
 
 US corn                    750.75     2.75   0.4%   16.1%
 US soybeans               1457.25    18.50   1.3%   21.6%
 US wheat                   850.00     5.25   0.6%   30.2%
 
 US Coffee                  140.10    -2.00  -1.4%  -38.6%
 US Cocoa                  2578.00    40.00   1.6%   22.2%
 US Sugar                    19.89     0.55   2.8%  -14.4%
 
 US silver                  33.650    0.446   1.3%   20.5%
 US platinum               1608.10     3.50   0.2%   14.5%
 US palladium               684.90    -1.35  -0.2%    4.4%
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