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