COMMODITIES-Multimonth highs in US crude, platinum group metals

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:18pm EST

* US jobs, housing data boost industrial commodities
    * Platinum at 3-month high, palladium at 16-month peaks
    * Gold near 1-month high; copper gains most in 2 weeks
    * US crude at 4-month high, Algerian attack supports price

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Platinum, palladium and oil hit
multimonth highs on Thursday, and copper posted its biggest
gains in two weeks, as bullish U.S. jobs and housing data
sparked a broad run-up in commodities, particularly those for
industrial use.
    Soft commodities also trended higher, with robusta coffee
 in London scaling 2-1/2 month highs and cocoa 
closing up. 
    Grain prices fell as corn snapped an eight-day long
rally, its longest since June, on profit-taking. 
    The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a
commodities bellwether, hit a six-week high after 9 of its 19
components rose by more than 1 percent.
    Supply worries and geopolitical tensions played into the
action.
    Platinum and palladium jumped partly on worries from earlier
in the week that top miner Amplats was looking into a
production overhaul that could cut 400,000 ounces of annual
platinum output.
    
    US CRUDE AT four-MONTH HIGHS
    In oil, U.S. crude futures hit four-month highs on news that
at least six foreign hostages were killed when security forces
battled with Islamist rebels who had taken over a remote desert
gas plant in Algeria. 
    Most markets began the day higher after U.S. job indicators
showed a five-year low in the number of Americans filing new
claims for unemployment benefits.
    Also supportive was data showing groundbreaking work on new
U.S. homes accelerating in December to its fastest pace in over
four years. 
    U.S. crude settled up 1.3 percent at $95.49 a barrel
in New York, after racing to its September high of $96.04.
    The more important benchmark for oil, London-traded Brent
crude, also rose 1.3 percent to close at $111.10.
    
    INDUSTRIAL COMMODITIES RALLY
    The bigger action was in metals.
    Platinum jumped to a three-month high of above $1,700
an ounce, passing the price of gold for the second session in a
row after the upbeat U.S. jobs and housing data boosted optimism
about demand for industrial commodities. 
    Palladium also rallied, hitting a 16-month high at
$727 an ounce, as investors in platinum group metals (PGMs)
remained wary about the supply squeeze that could be coming from
Amplats' production revamp.
    PGMs are largely used in the exhaust systems of cars to
reduce toxic fumes.
    Since the year began, platinum, which is also popular in
jewelry making, has risen about 10 percent in price and
palladium about 8 percent. Thomson Reuters data shows the
Relative Strength Index for both metals above 60, technically
putting them in overbought territory.
    Many think prices for both will push higher. 
    "The two markets are up nicely, but it's not like the move
has been parabolic. We do think PGMs have more to go," said Mark
Luschini, chief investment strategist of Janney Montgomery
Scott, a broker-dealer which manages $54 billion in assets.
    Gold set a milestone too. The spot price of bullion 
rose 1 percent to a one-month high above $1,695 as the dollar
gave back its early strength versus the euro. Gold pared
its gains by the close, hovering around $1,687, or about 0.5
percent higher. 
    At their lows on Thursday, bullion and platinum were almost
at parity at around $1,666 an ounce. At their peak, the
difference was $5, in platinum's favor.
   "There is a significant chance of platinum moving back to a
normal type of premium of at least $100 (against gold)," INTL
Commodities CEO Jeff Rhodes said. 
    In copper, the benchmark three-month contract in London
 rose 1.3 percent, its most in a day since Jan. 2, to
close at $8,054 a tonne. The session high was $8,065.
    
 Prices at 4:23 p.m. EST (2123 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    95.34     1.09   1.2%    3.8%
 Brent crude                111.04     1.36   1.2%   -0.1%
 Natural gas                 3.494    0.059   1.7%    4.3%
 
 US gold                   1690.80     7.60   0.5%    0.9%
 Gold                      1687.55     8.66   0.5%    0.8%
 US Copper                  366.20     5.55   1.5%    0.3%
 LME Copper                8054.00   108.00   1.4%    1.6%
 Dollar                     79.688   -0.116  -0.2%    3.8%
                             
 
 US corn                    724.50    -6.75  -0.9%    3.8%
 US soybeans               1430.25    -6.25  -0.4%    0.8%
 US wheat                   781.25    -3.75  -0.5%    0.4%
 
 US Coffee                  155.50     2.50   1.6%    8.1%
 US Cocoa                  2300.00    44.00   2.0%    2.9%
 US Sugar                    18.42    -0.03  -0.2%   -5.6%
 
 US silver                  31.810    0.268   0.8%    5.2%
 US platinum               1697.80     5.60   0.3%   10.3%
 US palladium               726.15    -0.30   0.0%    3.2%
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