COMMODITIES-Oil sinks below $100; gold rebounds after 2-year low
* Buyers return to hunt bargains in some battered markets * Brent crude closes below $100, first time since July * Gold ekes out gain after slide to 2-year low * Platinum, palladium join rebound in gold * Cocoa moves up along with soy, corn and wheat By Barani Krishnan NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil futures fell below $100 a barrel for the first time in nine months but gold eked out a gain after hitting a two-year bottom and other commodities recovered some ground after one of the worst two-day drops in recent history. Platinum and palladium joined gold in rebounding as the dollar fell, and copper prices rose on the back of upbeat U.S. housing data. Cocoa hit a four-month high, and wheat, corn and soybeans all closed higher. "We overdid it yesterday," Shawn McCambridge, grains analyst at Jefferies Bache, said, referring to the two-day rout across commodities which peaked on Monday. The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index rose almost 1 percent to mark its biggest rebound in a month. The globally watched commodities indicator fell 2.2 percent in the previous session for its sharpest one-day loss since December 2011. In other financial markets, U.S. stocks rose after an initial slide and bond prices fell as investors appeared to be less risk-averse than on Monday. But lingering investor caution after this week's news of anemic global growth signaled that the rebound may be fragile. German analyst and investor sentiment fell sharply on Tuesday in a sign that a renewed flare-up of the euro zone crisis was hurting Europe's largest economy. "Our suspicion is that we could start to stabilize today, before the selling resumes later in the week given that the chart picture still looks very poor while global macro readings leave a lot to be desired," said Edward Meir, commodities analyst at INTL FC Stone in Chicago. Brent crude settled down 72 cents at $99.91 a barrel, closing under the $100 mark for the first time since July as data from China and the United States pointed to little growth in global oil demand. Brent crude has fallen in nine of the past 11 trading sessions, and is down nearly 13 percent from the beginning of the year. U.S. crude settled up 1 cent at $88.72 a barrel after hitting a low of $86.06, its weakest since December 2012. Both Brent and U.S. crude pared losses in afternoon trading, suggesting that low prices were luring back some buyers. "We're seeing the bargain hunters come in," said Richard Ilczyszyn, chief market strategist and founder of iitrader.com. GOLD REBOUND SEEN FRAGILE Gold extended its decline to a two-year low overnight before steadying. The spot price of bullion fell 8.5 percent on Monday, its biggest ever daily fall in dollar terms. At one point it was down $142 an ounce, catching gold bulls, speculators and veteran investors all by surprise. Gold has fallen nearly 20 percent so far this year after an unbroken 12-year string of gains. It is down some 28 percent from a record high of $1,920.30 an ounce set in September 2011. The historic selloff in the last two sessions prompted investors to assess the damage to bullion's status as a hedge against inflation and currency depreciation. "I'm selling into the rally and waiting to figure out what's going on," said Charles Gradante, co-founder of The Hennessy Group in New York, which invests in hedge funds. "The question is where's gold going from here. Now this could be a 'dead cat bounce' we're getting today." Spot gold bottomed at $1,321.35 overnight, the lowest price since Jan. 28, 2011. It fetched about $1,368 by 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT), up 1 percent from Monday's close. Prices at 5:36 p.m. EDT (2136 GMT) LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 88.85 0.01 0.0% -3.2% Brent crude 100.14 -0.49 -0.5% -9.9% Natural gas 4.160 0.023 0.6% 24.1% US gold 1386.80 26.20 1.9% -17.2% Gold 1368.80 16.05 1.2% -18.2% US Copper 332.35 3.20 1.0% -9.0% LME Copper 7300.00 98.00 1.4% -8.0% Dollar 81.824 -0.593 -0.7% 6.6% US corn 663.25 16.50 2.6% -5.0% US soybeans 1411.50 16.50 1.2% -0.5% US wheat 703.50 9.75 1.4% -9.6% US Coffee 135.85 1.40 1.0% -5.5% US Cocoa 2294.00 51.00 2.3% 2.6% US Sugar 18.01 0.22 1.2% -7.7% US silver 23.628 0.267 1.1% -21.8% US platinum 1450.00 25.80 1.8% -5.8% US palladium 678.20 11.20 1.7% -3.6%
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