COMMODITIES-Oil, metals up slightly on demand bets; crops sink

Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:07pm EST

* Crude oil edges higher on OPEC demand data
    * Copper boosted by bets for China buying after holiday
    * Soybeans, grains and sugar tumble on looming supplies

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Commodity markets were little
changed on Tuesday, with oil edging higher after bullish OPEC
demand data and copper boosted by expectations of stronger
buying after a week-long holiday in China.
    Gold rose modestly as the dollar's drop against the euro
restored some of gold's appeal as a hedge to the U.S. currency.
 
    Crop prices mostly fell due to looming big supplies.
    Wheat was down for a second day, hitting 7-1/2 month
lows. Corn fell for an eight straight session in its
longest losing streak since mid-2010 and soybeans extended
losses from Monday. 
    Raw sugar reversed a technical run-up from the
previous session. 
    The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index was down
0.1 percent by 12:00 p.m. ET (1700 GMT), with 10 of the 19
commodity markets it tracked treading positive territory. Gains
were helped by a rebound in prices of arabica, the
premium-grade coffee, while wheat led losses.
    
    BRENT CRUDE PARES GAINS
    Benchmark Brent crude oil in London rose to above
$118 a barrel, near Friday's nine-month high, before paring
gains ahead of weekly crude inventory reports due from the
American Petroleum Institute (API) at 2130 GMT.
    The early run-up in Brent came after OPEC, or the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said world
oil demand will grow faster this year than previously thought.
In its monthly market report, the group raised its outlook for
the amount of crude that needs to be pumped to keep
supply-demand in balance. 
    "Overall, I would say the OPEC report is constructive and
mildly bullish based on the demand forecast," said Dominick
Chirichella, senior partner at Energy Management Institute in
New York.
    Concerns over Iran's nuclear program had also fed into the
early rally. 
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was
installing new centrifuges for uranium enrichment that could cut
by a third the time needed to create a nuclear bomb.
 
    Tensions eased when Tehran acknowledged it was converting
some of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel, a
move that could help prevent a dispute with the West over its
nuclear program hitting a crisis in mid-year. Iran says its
nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes. 
    
    COPPER, GOLD UP MODESTLY
    In copper, the three-month futures contract in London
 was up at $8,232.50 per tonne from a last bid of $8,199
on Monday.
    Traders said the market bolstered by the prospect of renewed
buying by Chinese industrial customers after the end of the
Lunar New Year holiday this week.
    Copper trading on the Shanghai Futures Exchange is closed
all week, while markets in Hong Kong and Singapore will reopen
on Wednesday.
    Copper rallied last week to its highest level in four months
at $8,346 per tonne. Although gains have petered out since,
prices are still up 3 percent this year.
    "We are all waiting to see what happens next week when China
comes back," Standard Chartered analyst Dan Smith said.
    Gold clawed back from its lowest level in over a month as
the dollar fell after a statement from the Group of Seven
industrialized countries reaffirmed the G7's commitment to
market-determined exchange rates. 
    Still, gold failed to reprise its safe-haven role after
North Korea confirmed having conducted an underground nuclear
test. Gold's gains as a dollar hedge were also modest as
investors focused more on the brightening global economic
picture than on geopolitical tensions. 
    The spot price of gold hit a session low of $1,638.82
an ounce, a bottom since Jan. 4, before rising to above $1,652,
showing a 0.1 percent gain.
    
 Prices at 12:34 p.m. EST (1734 GMT)                      
 
                              LAST      NET    PCT     YTD
                                        CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    97.53     0.50   0.5%    6.2%
 Brent crude                118.26     0.13   0.1%    6.4%
 Natural gas                 3.256   -0.023  -0.7%   -2.8%
 
 US gold                   1652.80     3.70   0.2%   -1.4%
 Gold                      1651.99     4.65   0.3%   -1.3%
 US Copper                  374.50     2.25   0.6%    2.5%
 LME Copper                8245.25    46.25   0.6%    4.0%
 Dollar                     79.966   -0.344  -0.4%    4.2%
 
 
 US corn                    695.00    -7.00  -1.0%   -0.4%
 US soybeans               1419.50   -12.00  -0.8%    0.1%
 US wheat                   728.50   -13.00  -1.8%   -6.4%
 
 US Coffee                  141.55     1.40   1.0%   -1.6%
 US Cocoa                  2182.00     8.00   0.4%   -2.4%
 US Sugar                    18.15    -0.29  -1.6%   -7.0%
 
 US silver                  31.080    0.170   0.6%    2.8%
 US platinum               1703.40     8.40   0.5%   10.7%
 US palladium               771.45    12.85   1.7%    9.7%