COMMODITIES-Markets deepen losses as Cyprus bailout festers

Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:28pm EDT

* Cyprus parliament rejects EU-proposed conditional bailout
    * Oil, copper hit multi-month low on broad selloff
    * Gold rises to 3-week high as investors seek safe-havens
    * Natgas, wheat and corn among other gainers

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - Oil and copper prices hit
multi-month lows on Tuesday and a number of commodities from
gasoline to coffee closed down too as uncertainty over a bailout
for Cyprus heightened concerns about the euro zone debt crisis.
    The dollar rallied against the euro for a second
straight session, reaching a four-month high and making
commodities denominated in the greenback costlier for holders of
the single European currency. 
    Oil prices sunk to three-month lows, while copper hit a
seven-month trough. Arabica coffee fell for a seventh
straight session. 
    "The situation in Cyprus, although small, goes to show that
the problems in the EU are far from over and it will exacerbate 
declining demand," said Abhishek Deshpande, a commodities
analyst for Natixis in London.
    Cyprus's parliament overwhelmingly rejected a proposed levy
on bank deposits as a condition for a European bailout, throwing
efforts to rescue the latest casualty of the currency area's
debt crisis into disarray. 
    Not all commodities ended down, though.
    Gold hit a three-week high above $1,615 an ounce on
safe-haven demand related to the Cyprus bailout. 
    Natural gas hit a 17-month high, rallying for a fifth
straight day, as U.S. temperatures remained unusually cold for
the spring season. Wheat and corn also rallied,
partly due to favorable supply situations.  
    The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a
bellwether for commodities, settled down almost half a percent,
extending Monday's slide of 0.7 percent. Ten of the 19 markets
tracked by the CRB ended in negative territory, with crude oil,
gasoline and heating all losing about 2 percent or more.
    
    OIL AT 3-MONTH BOTTOM
    In crude oil, the benchmark Brent grade traded in London
 touched a three-month low of $107.25 and settled down
$2.06, or 1.88 percent, at $107.45 a barrel. 
    U.S. crude's front-month contract settled down $1.58
at $92.16 a barrel. 
    While events in Cyprus dominated Tuesday's session in oil,
traders were also watching Syria, where the government and
rebels accused each other of launching a deadly chemical attack
in what would, if confirmed, be the first use of such weapons in
the two-year conflict. 
    Iran also presents an element of risk that could limit
losses in oil markets regardless of the outcome of the vote in
Cyprus, said Thorbjoern Bak Jensen of Global Risk Management.  
   Europe and the United States imposed tough new sanctions last
year aimed at Iran's oil trade to force Tehran to the
negotiating table over its nuclear program.  
    Insurers have refused to cover Indian refineries that
process Iranian crude imports, which might halt deliveries.    
China's biggest refiner has, meanwhile, said it did not expect
to have any insurance problems and planned to use more Iranian
oil in 2013.  
    
    COPPER AT 7-MONTH LOW
    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell
1.2 percent to $7,486.25 a tonne in electronic trading, the
weakest since Aug. 21 and breaking below a November low of
$7,506. Copper had ended at $7,530 a tonne in the last session
of open outcry trading. 
    Copper and aluminum, another key base metal, have shed
between 10 and 11 percent since touching highs in February, as
worries grew about tepid demand and rising inventories.
    In LME-registered warehouses, copper inventories were close
to 9-1/2 year highs. Nickel stocks neared their highest since
February 2010. 
    Metals markets have waited in vain for China to resume
buying after its Lunar New Year holiday and as the country's
leadership transition winds up and the seasonally strong second
quarter for metals demand gets underway. 
    Despite the fundamentals behind this year's selling in
metals, some view the price drops as overdone. Market bulls
refer to Tuesday's data showing U.S. home starts up in February
and new permits for construction rising to the highest level
since 2008.
    "We have just sent an alert to our clients advising them to
buy" copper, said Gianclaudio Torlizzi, a partner at metals
consultancy T-Commodity.
    
 Prices at 5:57 p.m. EDT (2056 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                     0.00     0.00   0.0% -100.0%
 Brent crude                107.46    -2.05  -1.9%   -3.3%
 Natural gas                 3.969    0.000   0.0%   18.4%
 
 US gold                   1611.30     6.70   0.4%   -3.8%
 Gold                      1611.80    -0.99  -0.1%   -3.7%
 US Copper                  339.55    -2.15  -0.6%   -7.0%
 LME Copper                7530.00   -45.00  -0.6%   -5.1%
 Dollar                     83.038    0.338   0.4%    8.2%
                              
 
 US corn                    728.50     8.50   1.2%    4.3%
 US soybeans               1406.75    -2.75  -0.2%   -0.8%
 US wheat                   722.00     9.25   1.3%   -7.2%
 
 US Coffee                  133.10    -1.25  -0.9%   -7.4%
 US Cocoa                  2099.00    11.00   0.5%   -6.1%
 US Sugar                    18.31     0.02   0.1%   -6.2%
 
 US silver                  28.843   -0.031  -0.1%   -4.6%
 US platinum               1555.40   -23.80  -1.5%    1.1%
 US palladium               735.20   -29.65  -3.9%    4.5%
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