COMMODITIES-17 pct gas gain leads index to 2nd straight monthly rise

Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:07pm EST

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By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The commodities complex had its
second consecutive monthly gain in January as markets such as
arabica coffee and heating oil finished up sharply on Friday to
join the month's big winner, natural gas.
    Arabica prices rose 4 percent on the day to hit a six-month
high. Heating oil has jumped about 4 percent over the past four
sessions to reach a near 5-1/2 year peak.  
    Natural gas fell more than 10 percent over the past two
sessions, wiping out all of Wednesday's rally, which took it to
a four-year high. Even so, gas finished at the top of the
commodities table for January, rising 17 percent on the month as
a brutally cold winter pushed demand for the heating fuel well
past expectations.
    "Natural gas was really rocking this month," said Gene
McGillian, energy analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford,
Connecticut. "Severely lower temperatures than expected and 
significant drop in gas inventories have all come together to
push this rally the way we've seen."
    The front-month natural gas contract in New York 
settled at $4.943 per million British thermal units (mmBtu)
versus December's finish of $4.230. Gas prices rose 26 percent
for all of 2013. 
    The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity Index, a
benchmark for global commodities made up of 19 components,
finished up 1.1 percent for January and slightly lower for the
session. It was the second month in a row that the CRB had risen
after December's gain of nearly 2 percent.
    Arabica coffee, part of the "soft commodities" complex along
with cocoa and raw sugar, posted the biggest monthly rise after
gas.
    Arabica's most actively traded futures contract in New York,
March, settled at $1.2520 per lb, up 4.3 percent on the
day and 13 percent on the month. It hit a six-month high of
$1.2595 earlier on Friday.
    Arabica rallied as concern over hot, dry weather in top
coffee grower Brazil fueled speculative short-covering and even
buying of new long positions, dealers said.
    March cocoa rose 7.5 percent on the month, settling
at $2,911 a tonne versus $2,709 in December. 
    Heating oil, also boosted by cold weather, rose 6.6
percent for January, settling at $3.279 per gallon. 
Prices at 3:40 p.m. EDT (2040 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG
US crude              97.50    -0.73  -0.7%
Brent crude         106.38    -1.57  -1.5%
Natural gas           4.943   -0.068  -1.4%
                                                          
US gold             1240.10    -2.10  -0.2%
Gold                1243.20     0.00   0.0%
US Copper              3.20    -0.03  -0.9%
LME Copper         7065.00   -30.00  -0.4%
Dollar               81.282    0.197   0.2%
CRB              283.312   -0.250  -0.1%
                                                          
US corn               434.00     1.00   0.2%
US soybeans          1282.75     7.75   0.6%
US wheat              555.75     2.25   0.4%
                                                          
US Coffee            125.20     5.20   4.3%
US Cocoa            2911.00    -1.00   0.0%
US Sugar              15.55     0.56   3.7%
                                                          
US silver            19.120   18.929   1.5%
US platinum         1406.40     0.00   0.0%
US palladium         703.20    -3.65  -0.5%

 (Editing by Peter Galloway)
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