Gold rises, oil sinks on economic worries

NEW YORK Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:10pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil fell on Monday after weak Japanese and U.S. economic data fed worries about global growth, but gold rose on safe-haven buying while a sinking dollar boosted industrial metals and some other commodities.

Wheat fell as investors took profits on forecasts for rain in drought-hit Russia, and funds pushed arabica coffee to the highest level in more than 12 years as the dollar weakened and nearby supplies tightened.

Despite strong gains in metals and some agricultural commodities, the RJ/CRB index ended the session lower. The global benchmark, comprised of 19 commodities, finished down 0.25 percent at 268.11.

U.S. gold futures rose to a 1-1/2 month high as data showing slow economic growth in Japan prompted safe-haven buying by investors worried about the global economy.

Silver and platinum group metals, whose prices usually reflect economic sentiment because of their industrial uses, rose with gold as the dollar fell sharply.

The euro, which tumbled last week, recovered some of those losses against the dollar as bargain-hunters bought the single currency. This helped lift gold, which resumed its usual inverse correlation with the dollar.

Growth in Japan's economy slowed to a crawl with an anemic 0.1 percent rise in the second quarter, and analysts see weakness ahead, which increased demand for safer assets like gold.

"You can consider this to be safe-haven buying. It is also supported by the overall low interest-rate environment that makes gold additionally attractive to investors," said Alexander Zumpfe of Heraeus Metals.

Copper prices also closed higher, with support from falling inventories, renewed losses in the U.S. dollar, and a brighter economic growth outlook in the developing world helping to offset waning Western world prospects.

A 2 percent rally in Shanghai equity markets set the tone in the copper market, analysts said.

"We are up today based off of the sentiment in equities," said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist with Lind-Waldock in Chicago.

Crude oil futures ended lower for the fifth straight session again as weak economic data from Japan and the United States fueled worries about energy demand and erased support from a weaker dollar.

U.S. wheat futures prices fell to their lowest levels in more than two weeks as traders grabbed profits after a forecast for rain in northern Russia gave hope for relief from a drought that devastated Black Sea region crops and had sent wheat prices skyrocketing in recent weeks.

Wheat's decline also gained momentum from rumors that Russia would honor its sales to Egypt and that Ukraine would introduce export quotas. Either development would ease concerns about Black Sea supplies and grain movement.

Corn and soybean futures gave up earlier gains on spillover pressure from wheat, with nearby corn falling for the first time in four sessions.

Benchmark arabica futures set the highest settlement for a second-position contract since December 1997.

(Reporting by Carole Vaporean; Editing by David Gregorio)

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