* Natural gas, crude oil lead commodities lower
* Soybeans and cotton buck downward trend
NEW YORK Nov 26 Commodity markets were mostly
lower on Monday, led down by oil and natural gas, as investors
pulled money out of assets considered risky as European debt
issues and U.S. budget negotiations continued.
Natural gas prices sank over 4 percent due in part to
forecasts for warmer weather, while oil was hurt by
macroeconomic concerns that offset potential disruptions in the
Those losses, alongside falling cocoa and coffee markets,
outweighed a rally in soybeans, that was due to the possibility
that dry weather could crimp soy supplies in parts of Brazil.
The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global
commodities benchmark, eased 0.44 percent, losing some of the
ground it gained last week when it put in its best weekly
performance in two months.
Macro-economic factors remained in focus as euro-zone
finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund made their
third attempt in as many weeks to agree on releasing emergency
aid for Greece on Monday. Policymakers said a write-down of
Greek debt is off the table for now.
In the United States, lawmakers showed little progress
toward a compromise designed to avoid mandated tax increases and
government spending cuts scheduled for Jan. 1.
"Crude is feeling some pressure from the concerns about
Greece and Spain, and the nagging worries about the fiscal
cliff, with the stock market lower and the dollar index
strengthening adding some pressure," said Phil Flynn, an analyst
at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
In the broader financial markets, U.S. stock markets slipped
as retailers fell on concerns about heavy discounts at the start
of the U.S. holiday shopping season.
Spot gold also eased alongside commodities and
Brent January crude fell 46 cents to settle at
$110.92 a barrel, while the U.S. January crude gave up 54
cents to settle at $87.74 a barrel.
In the natural gas market, prices were undermined by revised
weather forecasts calling for a significant warming early next
month that should slow the use of gas to heat homes and
"This (sell-off) was all weather related. There was a lot of
bullish sentiment built up about the weather, but the December
forecast today didn't look very cold, so people had to face
reality," a West Coast-based trader said.
Front-month December gas futures on the New York
Mercantile Exchange, which expire on Wednesday, ended down 17.1
cents, or 4.4 percent, at $3.73 per million British thermal
units after sinking late to an intraday low of $3.704.
Arabica coffee futures sank to a 2-1/2-year low, on fund
selling and pressure from the spot contract's huge discount to
the second position that soared to the biggest since 1986.
Elsewhere, soybeans, cotton and sugar prices bucked the
downward trend. Soybean futures rose to their highest level in
nearly two weeks amid concerns over dry weather in parts of
southern Brazil, with prices extending their biggest weekly gain
in three months.
After the worst drought in half a century slashed the size
of this year's crop in the United States, importers are hoping
for bumper harvests in Brazil and Argentina to help drive down
prices that rallied to an all-time this past summer.
The higher soybeans helped lift cotton, while sugar was