COMMODITIES-Brent back above $100 in cautious market, gold up too

Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:51pm EDT

* Economic uncertainty hangs over markets after weak US data
    * Copper stays below $7,000 level critical to market bulls
    * Grains down broadly; cocoa sugar also slide

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, April 22 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil returned to
above $100 a barrel on Monday and gold rallied its most since
last week's historic drop but copper remained below a level
critical to market bulls, underscoring the economic uncertainty
hanging over commodities.
    Grains from corn to wheat and soybeans 
all fell roughly 1 percent each on forecasts for better crop
weather across a broad swath of the soggy U.S. crop belt. 
    Among other crops, cocoa retreated from a four-month
high, posting its largest daily loss in a month on
profit-taking. Sugar also fell, pressured by accelerated
harvesting in top producing country Brazil. 
    The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index
 was down slightly, with 12 of its 19 components in
negative territory.
    The CRB hit a nine-month low on Wednesday as investors fled
from commodities on fears of stalling China growth, threat of
fresh euro zone troubles and uncertainty whether the U.S.
Federal Reserve would continue without slowing bond purchases
that had fueled over two years price growth in raw materials.
    The Chicago Federal Reserve reinforced worries about U.S.
economic growth after issuing on Monday a negative reading on a
national activity index that investors had expected to come in
positive. 
    News of disappointing corporate earnings and
lower-than-expected existing home sales in the world's top
economy also caused markets to give back part of their gains for
the day.  
    Investor hesitation was particularly palpable in oil, where
prices gained along with equities, but had difficulty holding on
to their peaks due to worryingly high stockpiles of U.S. crude.
    "There's still a sense of trepidation with regard to demand,
especially with supplies what they are," said Stephen Schork,
editor of energy news letter The Schork Report.  
    "We seem to have a lot of inventory and questionable demand,
and that's hanging over the market."
    London's Brent crude settled up 74 cents, or 0.7
percent, at $100.39 a barrel. It had risen to a session high of
$101.04. 
    U.S. crude ended the day at $88.76 a barrel, up 75
cents or 0.9 percent. 
    Gold rose more than 2 percent, supported by strong physical
buying that helped it pull away from last week's two-year low.
 
    Despite the rebound, the technical outlook for gold barely
improved with bullion prices remaining down more than 15 percent
on the year. 
    Investors also reduced bullion holdings in the top
exchange-traded fund to the lowest in nearly three years.
    "Physical demand is giving the price a psychological boost,
but don't think that could make up for the 65-tonne outflows
from ETFs last week," Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said. 
    "The market is obviously looking for someone to show an
interest to buy at these levels but it's quite a traditional
set-up that we have a sell-off and then tentative recoveries the
following days."
    The spot price of gold was up 1.5 percent at around
$1,425 an ounce, after a session-high at $1,438.66 per ounce. It
hit a two-year low on April 16, after falling more than $125 a
day earlier -- its biggest loss in a day in dollar terms. 
    Copper fell almost 1 percent to trade close to 1-1/2 year
lows amid disappointing global growth and higher supply
prospects that kept the metal below the $7,000 tonne level
critical to market bulls. 
    Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange 
ended at $6,935 a tonne from $6,990 at the close on Friday,
having earlier fallen as low as $6,815, just $15 short of a
1-1/2-year low hit last week.
    "There has been a focus on copper because it has been
trading at a significant premium to its accepted fair value,"
said Deutsche Bank analyst Daniel Brebner. "Between now and
mid-year we will see $6,500 a tonne, but if you're a trader,
you'd be looking at this as a (buying) opportunity."
    
 Prices at 4:12 p.m. EDT (2011 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    88.81     0.75   0.9%   -3.3%
 Brent crude                100.53     0.88   0.9%   -9.5%
 Natural gas                 4.267   -0.141  -3.2%   27.3%
 
 US gold                   1421.00    25.70   1.8%  -15.2%
 Gold                      1426.11    22.26   1.6%  -14.8%
 US Copper                  314.40    -1.90  -0.6%  -13.9%
 LME Copper                6935.00   -55.00  -0.8%  -12.6%
 Dollar                     82.646   -0.068  -0.1%    7.7%
                             
 
 US corn                    645.75    -6.25  -1.0%   -7.5%
 US soybeans               1417.25   -11.00  -0.8%   -0.1%
 US wheat                   702.25    -6.75  -1.0%   -9.7%
 
 US Coffee                  142.50     0.85   0.6%   -0.9%
 US Cocoa                  2299.00   -20.00  -0.9%    2.8%
 US Sugar                    17.87    -0.10  -0.6%   -8.4%
 
 US silver                  23.324    0.364   1.6%  -22.8%
 US platinum               1435.80    12.50   0.9%   -6.7%
 US palladium               681.90     4.85   0.7%   -3.0%
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