March 7, 2013 / 8:23 PM / 5 years ago

COMMODITIES-Broad gains as dollar tumbles; natgas, sugar spike

* Prices rise as dlr faces biggest loss vs euro in 2 months
    * Falling U.S. gas inventories boost NY natgas futures
    * Sugar rallies on hope for higher use in ethanol

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, March 7 (Reuters) - Commodities rose broadly on
Thursday, with metals and agricultural markets mostly posting
strong gains after the dollar's tumble fueled buying in raw
materials by holders of the euro and other major currencies.
    Falling U.S. gas inventories also boosted natural gas
futures traded in New York while export demand for wheat 
and soybeans lifted prices for those contracts in Chicago
. Sugar rallied on hopes for higher use of the sweetener
in the biofuel ethanol.
    Oil prices were mixed, with U.S. crude futures 
rallying on the weaker dollar and benchmark Brent oil in London
 slipping on the restart of a North Sea pipeline that
would boost supply. 
    Copper and aluminium prices rebounded on the
euro's rally against the dollar and better-than-expected U.S.
data that boosted the outlook for growth. 
    The dollar was down 1 percent against the euro by 2:45 p.m.
ET (1845 GMT), on track for its sharpest slide in two months
against the single European currency, after the European Central
Bank left rates unchanged.
    The greenback also fell against a basket of major currencies
 although it rallied versus the yen. A weak dollar
tends to make commodities cheaper and more attractive to holders
of other currencies. 
    The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index
 was up 0.8 percent, heading to its largest one-day
gain in five weeks. Fourteen of the 19 markets tracked by the
CRB showed gains.
    Natural gas led the CRB's gains, rising more than 3 percent
and posting a six-week high after a government report showed a
weekly inventory draw well above market expectations.
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report
showed total domestic gas inventories fell last week by 146
billion cubic feet to 2.083 trillion cubic feet. 
    Most traders viewed the decline as bullish for prices,
noting it was the third straight week that the draw came in
above expectations. A Reuters poll on Wednesday showed traders
and analysts had forecast a 134 bcf drop. 
    "The withdrawal was significantly more than expected, a
bullish shock to the market. There were no reports of
reclassifications and so this looks like a tightening of the
background supply/demand balance for the period," Citi Futures
energy analyst Tim Evans said in a report.
    The front-month gas futures contract on the New York
Mercantile Exchange was up 9.7 cents, or 2.8 percent, at $3.567
per million British thermal units. It hit a six-week high of
$3.603 right after the EIA data.
    Cold late-winter weather has helped push the front contract
up about 14 percent in the last three weeks, turning the chart
picture for gas more supportive after the market took out some
key moving averages and trendline resistance. 
    Raw sugar also rose more than 3 percent in New York, to a
one-month high, joining the CRB's biggest gainers of the day.
    Dealers said a combination of rising diesel prices and an
expected removal of taxes for ethanol in top producing Brazil
fueled the sugar rally.
    Climbing diesel prices have increased the cost of getting
sugar to port, and are expected to have an impact on the
sugar/ethanol production split in Brazil, said a European sugar
    Any addition of sugar to ethanol production could help
deplete a large global surplus of the sweetener, which has been
pressuring prices to recent 2-1/2-year lows.
    "The question is what is the production mix going to be in
Brazil in 2013/14," said the analyst.
    In 2012/13, nearly 50 percent of Brazil's center-south cane
was directed into sugar production. But this could drop as low
as 40 percent as ethanol becomes more attractive and the
Brazilian government plans ethanol tax exemptions to help the
country's sugar cane industry. 
    The front-month contract for raw sugar in New York, May
, gained 0.57 cent, or 3.1 percent, to 18.77 cents per lb.
The contract has been recovering since falling below the 18-cent
level last week.
 Prices at 2:46 p.m. EST (1946 GMT)                        
                              LAST      NET    PCT     YTD
                                        CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    91.45     1.02   1.1%   -0.4%
 Brent crude                111.04    -0.02   0.0%   -0.1%
 Natural gas                 3.582    0.112   3.2%    6.9%
 US gold                   1575.40     0.50   0.0%   -6.0%
 Gold                      1576.00    -7.31  -0.5%   -5.9%
 US Copper                  349.60     2.20   0.6%   -4.3%
 LME Copper                7751.75    61.75   0.8%   -2.3%
 Dollar                     82.100   -0.363  -0.4%    6.9%
 CRB             <.TRJCRB    0.000    0.000   0.0% -100.0%
 US corn                    709.00     1.00   0.1%    1.5%
 US soybeans               1502.00    17.50   1.2%    5.9%
 US wheat                   683.25     7.00   1.0%  -12.2%
 US Coffee                  143.15     1.90   1.4%   -0.5%
 US Cocoa                  2070.00    28.00   1.4%   -7.4%
 US Sugar                    18.77     0.57   3.1%   -3.8%
 US silver                  28.785   -0.018  -0.1%   -4.8%
 US platinum               1594.00    14.20   0.9%    3.6%
 US palladium               756.60    16.55   2.2%    7.6%
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