COMMODITIES-Oil, gasoline down on stockpile surge, copper steady
* Most post thin gains as investors await positive news * Oil prices slip half a percent, down for a third day * Gasoline falls more than any commodity on inventory jump * Gold back at one-month low, cocoa extends Tuesday loss By Barani Krishnan NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell again on Wednesday on demand worries in a sluggish global economy, but most other commodities showed slight gains as investors awaited progress in U.S. budget talks or other news that could bring vigor back to the markets. Oil prices were down about half a percent for a third day of losses after data showed larger-than-expected increases last week in stockpiles of refined products in the United States, the top energy consuming nation. Gasoline prices fell more than crude oil prices because of a spike in petroleum inventories. Gold surrendered early gains to fall back to a one-month low, pressured by technical selling and a stronger dollar. Cocoa fell about 1 percent, extending Tuesday's 3 percent slump. HOLDING ITS OWN Copper remained above the fray, bucking the generally weak trend in commodities over the last week on renewed economic prospects in China, the biggest market for industrial metals. The leading base metal was up for a fourth day running, gaining a total of 7 percent from a Nov. 9 low of $7,506 a tonne in London. Copper's latest run-up was supported by comments from China's Communist Party chief Xi Jinping that Beijing would fine-tune economic policies next year to ensure stable economic growth. The selloff in other commodities at one point or another over the past week was mainly due to worries over sticky U.S. budget negotiations which, if unresolved by the end of the year, could bring on $600 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes that could derail the economy. By 12:30 p.m. EST (1700 GMT), the 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index rose by nearly a quarter percent, with 12 of the 19 markets it tracks edging towards positive territory. Copper aside, markets with substantial gains included natural gas, which rose 4 percent, and soybeans , which climbed 1.3 percent. OIL, GASOLINE HIT BY EIA DATA Oil's benchmark Brent crude in London slipped below $109 a barrel before recovering some of its losses. The market initially rose to above $110 a barrel before the combination of higher U.S. refined oil stockpiles, weak euro zone retail data and a bearish preliminary report on U.S. jobs data for November. "There was some hopeful data from the U.S. last week and positive noise from China (this week), but Europe's a big worry," said Richard Langkemper, an analyst at Argos North Sea Group in Rotterdam. The volume of retail trade in the 17-member euro zone fell 1.2 percent in October from September, the biggest drop since April. Oil inventory data reported by the Energy Information Administration was also a major drag on the market, with gasoline stockpiles swelling by their most in a week since September 2001 due to higher-than-expected refinery output. Gasoline fell 1.3 percent, leading the CRB's loss. "The (EIA) report (on gasoline) is solidly bearish and a welcomed development for consumers," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital in New York. Prices at 12:26 p.m. EST (1726 GMT) LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG US crude 88.09 -0.40 -0.5% -10.9% Brent crude 109.21 -0.63 -0.6% 1.7% Natural gas 3.672 0.133 3.8% 22.9% US gold 1694.00 -0.40 0.0% 8.1% Gold 1693.25 -3.49 -0.2% 8.3% US Copper 366.70 3.35 0.9% 6.7% LME Copper 8070.25 38.25 0.5% 6.2% Dollar 79.735 0.092 0.1% -0.6% US corn 752.75 6.25 0.8% 16.4% US soybeans 1475.75 20.25 1.4% 23.1% US wheat 841.75 3.25 0.4% 29.0% US Coffee 139.25 1.90 1.4% -39.0% US Cocoa 2490.00 -1.00 0.0% 18.1% US Sugar 19.50 0.06 0.3% -16.1% US silver 32.830 0.096 0.3% 17.6% US platinum 1583.50 0.60 0.0% 12.7% US palladium 676.20 -4.90 -0.7% 3.1%
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