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