COMMODITIES-Oil, metals surge as US data send markets rallying

Fri Feb 1, 2013 5:41pm EST

* Brent crude oil up 1 pct on day and 3 pct on week
    * Copper up again following 3 pct rise in Jan
    * Gold edges higher following oil, industrial metals
    * Sugar at 2-week high, soy 6-week peak

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Oil, copper and gold prices
jumped on Friday as stocks on Wall Street hit five-year highs
after U.S. jobs and manufacturing data pointed to an economy on
the mend.
    Among crops, raw sugar hit a two-week high on short-covering
and improving sentiment after a 2-1/2 year low a week earlier.
    Soybean prices hit six-week highs after a slash in
Argentina's harvest forecast. But corn and wheat fell on
expectations of wetter weather in some dry areas of that country
planted with the two grains.
    The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global
benchmark for commodities, hit a three-month high as U.S. stocks
rose to pre-financial crisis peaks after a spate of encouraging
data on employment and factory activity.
    Figures from the Labor Department showed U.S. job gains in
the prior two months were bigger than initially reported.
    Other reports showed the pace of growth in the U.S.
manufacturing sector picked up in January to its highest level
in nine months and U.S. consumer sentiment rose more than
expected last month. December construction spending also beat
forecasts. 
    "The impression is that things are improving slowly on the
macroeconomic front. The data seems to be moving in the right
direction and we have had more positive surprises than negative
surprises," said Robin Bhar, analyst at Societe Generale.
  
    BRENT CRUDE UP FOR 3RD WEEK
    London's benchmark Brent crude oil market rose for the third
straight week, posting its biggest weekly gain in two months.
Brent's front-month contract settled at $116.76 a
barrel, up 1 percent on the day and 3 percent on the week. The
session peak was $117.07, which marked a high since September.
    U.S. crude settled at $97.77, up 0.3 percent for the
day and 2 percent for the week. It was also the market's eight
straight week of gains.
    Brent's premium over U.S. crude has begun widening again as
problems with the Seaway pipeline caused a pile up in U.S. crude
supplies in Cushing, the delivery point for domestic oil.
    The spread had narrowed with the start up of the expanded
Cushing-to-Texas Seaway pipeline that had been expected to draw
down oil inventories bulging in the U.S. Midwest. 
    But traders said stocks at Cushing could keep building
because the pipeline may not be able to run at full capacity of
400,000 barrels per day until the second half of the year. This
should keep pressure on U.S. crude prices.  
   "The realization that the Seaway pipeline reversal is an
answer to almost none of the crude oil backlog issues in the
Midcontinent is weighing on WTI prices outright and especially
in relation to Brent crude oil prices," said John Kilduff,
partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. 
    "It's as if they built a pipeline to nowhere. There was a
bout of irrational pipeline exuberance." 
 
    COPPER EXTENDS JANUARY RUN-UP
    In copper, the benchmark three-month contract in London
 closed at $8,290 a tonne, up from a close of $8,165 on
Thursday when it touched a 3-1/2 month intraday high at
$8,291.25.
    In January, copper gained 3 percent in all.
    Further helping gains in the metal on Friday was the
dollar's drop to a 14-month low against the euro, making the
metal more affordable for holders of the single European
currency. 
    U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled up $8.60
an ounce at $1,670.60, with trading volume in line with its
250-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.  
    Gold's link to stocks and industrial commodities has been
largely erratic over the past year.
    It gained 0.6 percent this week, offsetting some of the
previous week's 1.5 percent loss. It was down slightly year to
date, however, as signs of improvement in the U.S. and euro zone
economies boosted investor appetite for other assets.
    
 Prices at 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    97.61     0.28   0.3%    6.3%
 Brent crude                116.50     0.95   0.8%    4.9%
 Natural gas                 3.301   -0.038  -1.1%   -1.5%
 
 US gold                   1669.40     8.80   0.5%   -0.4%
 Gold                      1667.15     0.61   0.0%   -0.4%
 US Copper                  378.45     5.25   1.4%    3.6%
 LME Copper                8290.00   125.00   1.5%    4.5%
 Dollar                     79.206   -0.001   0.0%    3.2%
                               
 
 US corn                    736.00    -4.50  -0.6%    5.4%
 US soybeans               1474.25     5.75   0.4%    3.9%
 US wheat                   765.00   -14.50  -1.9%   -1.7%
 
 US Coffee                  147.95     1.00   0.7%    2.9%
 US Cocoa                  2205.00     0.00   0.0%   -1.4%
 US Sugar                    18.89     0.11   0.6%   -3.2%
 
 US silver                  31.958    0.607   1.9%    5.7%
 US platinum               1677.40     0.00   0.0%    9.0%
 US palladium               756.40    10.70   1.4%    7.5%
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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