COMMODITIES-Natgas futures sinks 8 pct after rally; gold drops 2 pct

Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:26pm EST

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By Frank Tang
    NEW YORK, Jan 30 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures prices
fell more than 8 percent on Thursday as the market pulled back
from its previous day's ten-percent rally, and gold fell around
2 percent as equities surged on robust U.S. growth data.
    U.S. crude oil rose after the Commerce Department said gross
domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the fourth
quarter of last year. 
    Solid U.S. economic growth data boosted the dollar against a
basket of currencies. A stronger greenback sent the Thomson
Reuters/Core Commodity Index, a commodities bellwether
made up of 19 components, 0.3 percent lower to 283.5617. 
    Front-month February natural gas futures on the New York
Mercantile Exchange closed down 45.4 cents, or 8.31
percent, at $5.011 per million British thermal units. 
    The February 2014 contract expired on Wednesday, moving
March, generally a warmer month, into the front-month contract
and contributing to the fall in price. Natgas futures also
ignored a U.S. government report showing a storage drawdown. 
    "Once again the weekly storage release has been subordinated
by more expansive discussions on the balance of winter," said
BNP Paribas analyst Teri Viswanath. "The market is technically
retracing."
    U.S. crude oil futures settled at $98.23 per barrel,
up 87 cents, or 0.9 percent, as the strong U.S. growth data
boosted demand hopes. 
    
    GOLD, COPPER TUMBLE; CORN UP 
    Gold fell around 2 percent, its biggest one-day drop
in more than a month, as a pullback in the U.S. Federal
Reserve's stimulus program on Wednesday and the equities rally
prompted bullion investors to take profits. 
    Copper prices fell to a near two-month, dragged down
by a strong dollar and lackluster demand from China ahead of a
week-long holiday, while overproduction in aluminum 
pushed the metal to its lowest level in nearly five years.
 
    In agricultural commodities, corn futures jumped 1.5
percent, their largest gain in about three weeks after
government data showed larger-than-expected export sales. 
    Raw sugar futures jumped after Indian authorities
deferred a decision on output incentives, while Liffe cocoa
 inched up to a 2-1/2-year high with a boost from the weak
sterling versus the dollar. 

 (Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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