COMMODITIES-Oil, copper surge on US housing; gold watches Fed

Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:14am IST

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Stocks

   

* US crude up more than 1 pct, exceeding gains in Brent
    * Copper rises nearly 2 pct year-to-date
    * Gold up too, snapping 4-day losing streak
    * Grains swept up in broad rally, sugar bucks trend

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Oil and copper prices rose for
a second straight day on Tuesday as strong U.S. housing market
data bolstered confidence that economic growth and fuel demand
were accelerating.
    Gold also rose, snapping a four-day losing streak. The
rebound came on short-covering and expectations that a meeting
of the Federal Reserve later in the week will retain U.S.
short-term interest rates at exceptionally low levels until the
unemployment rate falls to 6.5 percent, inflation permitting.
 
    On the agricultural side, corn and soybean 
futures inched higher as dry weather threatened to reduce
production in major exporter Argentina. Wheat rose on
deteriorating crop conditions in the U.S. Plains. 
    Sugar tumbled on heavy volume after diminished worries about
potentially damaging rains in Australia, the world's
third-biggest exporter of the commodity.
    Raw sugar futures in New York fell 2 percent, wiping
out the previous day's rally that took the market to a 2-week
high. Volume was roughly 14 percent above the 250-day moving
average, according to preliminary Thomson Reuters data. 
    Sugar was also the biggest loser for the day on the Thomson
Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, which serves as a
commodities bellwether. Thirteen of the 19 markets on the CRB
ended in positive territory, with silver, cotton 
and heating oil all gaining about 2 percent each.
    
    CRUDE JUMPS ON US HOUSING/ECONOMIC RECOVERY 
    U.S. crude oil rose more than 1 percent, exceeding gains in
London's benchmark Brent crude, after data pointed to continued
recovery in America's once-battered housing market.
    Oil traders have been monitoring U.S. economic numbers for
signs of a potential improvement in fuel demand.
    Crude rallied along with other financial markets after U.S.
single-family home prices rose in November for the 10th month in
a row and posted its biggest year-on-year rise since August
2006, according to data from the S&P/Case Shiller composite
index of 20 metropolitan areas. 
    U.S. crude gained nearly 1.2 percent to settle at
$97.57, off its session high of $97.82.
    Brent crude rose 88 cents to settle at $114.36 per
barrel, having reached $114.49, its highest price since Oct. 16,
2012.
    Trading volume was heavy, with U.S. crude 33 percent above
its 30-day moving average and Brent more than 20 percent above
than its own 30-day moving average. 
    
    COPPER RISES ON CHINA GROWTH COMMENTS
    Copper prices rose after China's top think tank lifted its
economic growth forecast for 2013 to 8.4 percent from 8.2
percent, with faster expansion seen in the first half of the
year. 
    China is the world's largest buyer of copper.  
    London's three-month copper ended up at $8,103 a
tonne, from a close of $8,050 on Monday. The metal's
year-to-date gains amounted to just under 2 percent.
    Some investors in copper were also optimistic that first
estimates for fourth-quarter gross domestic product in the
United States on Wednesday could indicate signs of fledgling
economic growth. 
    
    GOLD BOOSTED BY FED EXPECTATIONS
    In gold, traders awaited the outcome of a two-day Federal
Reserve policy meeting. The Fed has said it expects to keep
short-term U.S. interest rates exceptionally low to help support
the economy.
    The low rates have helped push up prices of gold as well as
industrial commodities such as oil and copper, as investors pour
cash into riskier asset classes. 
    "What's going to come out of the Fed is more of the same, so
we can just anticipate that (quantitative easing) is here at
least for a little while longer," said Jeffrey Sica, chief
investment officer of SICA Wealth, who oversees more than $1
billion in client assets.
    The spot price of gold was up 0.5 percent at
$1,662.90 an ounce by 6:15 p.m. EST (2315 GMT), recovering from
Monday's 2-1/2 week low of $1,651.93.  
    U.S. gold futures' most-active contract settled up
$7.90 at $1,660.80 an ounce, with volume more than 40 percent
above the 250-day average. 
 Prices at 5:43 p.m. EST (2243 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    97.32     1.13   1.2%    6.0%
 Brent crude                114.24     0.76   0.7%    2.8%
 Natural gas                 3.258   -0.047  -1.4%   -2.8%
 
 US gold                   1660.80     7.90   0.5%   -0.9%
 Gold                      1663.15    -0.30   0.0%   -0.7%
 US Copper                  369.15     3.00   0.8%    1.1%
 LME Copper                8103.00    53.00   0.7%    2.2%
 Dollar                     79.569   -0.179  -0.2%    3.6%
                             
 
 US corn                    729.50     0.25   0.0%    4.5%
 US soybeans               1451.75     4.00   0.3%    2.3%
 US wheat                   777.00    -2.25  -0.3%   -0.1%
 
 US Coffee                  149.80     0.80   0.5%    4.2%
 US Cocoa                  2195.00    34.00   1.6%   -1.8%
 US Sugar                    18.38    -0.35  -1.9%   -5.8%
 
 US silver                  31.184    0.404   1.3%    3.2%
 US platinum               1677.40    16.20   1.0%    9.0%
 US palladium               749.75     9.20   1.2%    6.6%
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