COMMODITIES-Markets mixed, tracking US fiscal talks; CRB up

Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:50pm EST

* Markets await clearer outcome to U.S. fiscal crisis
    * Oil ends mixed, with U.S. crude rising and Brent falling
    * Gold flat, copper down slightly
    * Corn falls back after one-session rebound, soy slips too

    By Barani Krishnan
    Dec 17 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell in London on Monday but
rose in New York, and gold and copper ended little changed, as
commodity investors awaited a clearer outcome to the U.S. fiscal
crisis amid hopes a recession might be averted in the new year.
    On the agricultural side, corn fell back after a
one-session rebound as weak exports and waning demand from
ethanol producers depressed prices. Soybeans ended a touch
higher but off a 5-1/2 week high from earlier in the session.
 
    A rebound in raw sugar and arabica coffee from
two-year lows helped put the Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index
 -- a bellwether for commodities -- in positive territory.
 
    The CRB settled up 0.2 percent after five of the 19 markets
tracked by the index, including sugar, coffee and natural gas
, showed gains of more than 1 percent.
    
    OIL TRACKS FISCAL TALKS
    President Barack Obama and top Republican John Boehner met
at the White House as hopes rose that Washington will be able to
head off steep tax hikes and spending cuts that could push the
economy into recession next year.  
    U.S. stocks rose about 1 percent on budding optimism of
a deal after reports over the weekend that Boehner proposed
extending low tax rates for every American who has earned less
than $1 million -- edging somewhat closer to some of Obama's key
demands. 
    "Hopes for a budget deal have the equities market putting in
a good day and U.S. crude has followed along," said Addison
Armstrong at Tradition Energy in Stamford Connecticut.
    U.S. crude oil's front-month contract settled up 0.5
percent at $87.20 a barrel. 
    London's benchmark Brent crude fell 0.5 percent
instead to $107.64 a barrel. Brent was weighed down by European
Central Bank President Mario Draghi's remarks expressing renewed
concern over the slow growth in euro zone economies. 
    
    GOLD FLAT, COPPER DOWN SLIGHTLY
    Gold traded flat after the renewed traction in the U.S.
budget talks took away some of the safe-haven premium in the
precious metal.
    Gold has hampered by both negative and positive news
surrounding the fiscal talks. Traditionally an insurance against
economic trouble, gold has been weakened by the perception that
a smooth outcome to the talks could result in a lesser need for
people to use the precious metal as a hedge against risk.
    Since it also doubles up as an inflation hedge, bullion has
been hit too by fear that the U.S. economy could slip back into
recession next year without a fiscal deal.
    "Should we get a sell-off, we suspect gold will be caught up
in the resulting downdraft," said Edward Meir, metals analyst at
brokerage INTL FCStone.     
    The spot price of bullion rose 0.1 percent to
$1,695.91 an ounce, trading in a relatively narrow range of $13.
    U.S. gold futures for February delivery finished up
$1.20, or 0.1 percent, at $1,698.20 an ounce. 
    Copper's key three-month futures contract in London 
closed down $5 at $8,060 a tonne ahead of the Obama-Boehner
meeting. In New York, the metal's most-active March contract
 settled down 0.4 percent at $3.6675 per lb.
    Aside from the fiscal talks, copper traders have lately been
looking at promising economic growth data out of China, the
biggest market for copper and other base metals.
    Traders said copper did find some support in Friday's data
pointing to growth in both China's vast manufacturing sector and
U.S. factory activity, although this had yet to translate into
an improvement in metals fundamentals. 
    "We have got to see the (copper) stock(pile) shrinking in
China," said Andrey Kryuchenkov, analyst at Moscow's VTB
Capital. 
    
 Prices at 3:41 p.m. EST (2041 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    87.37     0.64   0.7%  -11.6%
 Brent crude                107.99    -0.19  -0.2%    0.6%
 Natural gas                 3.358    0.044   1.3%   12.3%
 
 US gold                   1697.00     1.20   0.1%    8.3%
 Gold                      1696.94     1.85   0.1%    8.5%
 US Copper                  364.90    -1.60  -0.4%    6.2%
 LME Copper                8063.00    -2.00   0.0%    6.1%
 Dollar                     79.578   -0.002   0.0%   -0.7%
 
 
 US corn                    724.00    -6.75  -0.9%   12.0%
 US soybeans               1496.25     0.25   0.0%   24.8%
 US wheat                   808.00    -6.00  -0.7%   23.8%
 
 US Coffee                  137.95     0.55   0.4%  -39.5%
 US Cocoa                  2425.00   -10.00  -0.4%   15.0%
 US Sugar                    19.41     0.40   2.1%  -16.4%
 
 US silver                  32.206   -0.017  -0.1%   15.4%
 US platinum               1609.50   -10.00  -0.6%   14.6%
 US palladium               697.20    -3.60  -0.5%    6.3%
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