COMMODITIES-Wheat up on U.S. sales; slow Fed taper hopes lift gold

Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:21pm EST

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By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Wheat futures rallied on Monday
after data suggesting a spike in demand for U.S. supplies of the
grain, and gold prices firmed on bets that new Federal Reserve
Chair Janet Yellen will not accelerate the winding down of the
U.S. monetary stimulus.
    Brent crude oil fell by nearly $1 per barrel, pressured by
sinking heating oil prices, as the market looked toward the end
of a long and frigid winter and as supplies increased from Libya
and the North Sea. 
    Natural gas futures tumbled to its lowest in more
than two weeks, also on forecasts for warmer weather in the
longer-term. 
    In base metals, copper and aluminium 
finished lower. In crop markets outside of wheat, sugar,
soybeans, cocoa and lean hogs all ended
down.       
    The broad lower close weighed on the Thomson Reuters/Core
Commodity Index, a global benchmark for commodities.
The index settled down 0.3 percent after 10 of its 19 components
ended in the negative.
    Wheat futures surged after the U.S. Department of
Agriculture announced a bigger-than-expected cut in
ending-stocks of the grain in data issued Monday.
    Traders said there had been a noticeable pick up in demand
for U.S.-grown wheat since prices hit a 3-1/2-year low late last
month.
    The USDA dropped its U.S. ending-stocks figure to 558
million bushels, 50 million below its January estimate and lower
than trade expectations for 603 million bushels. The cut was
entirely due to a 50 million-bushel boost to its export
forecast. 
    "The balance table on the wheat market is probably the
tightest now," said Don Roose, analyst with U.S. Commodities in
West Des Moines, Iowa.
    At the close of Monday's session, soft red winter wheat
 settled up 7-1/4 cents, or up 1.3 percent, at $5.84-3/4 a
bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Hard red winter wheat in
Kansas City and spring wheat in Minneapolis,
both high-protein material prized on the export market, jumped
about 2 percent each. 
    Gold prices rose on expectations that Fed Chair Yellen will
not fast-track the winding down of the U.S. monetary stimulus,
which had been a boon to prices of the precious metal.
    Yellen is due to make her first testimony to the U.S.
Congress on Tuesday, and financial markets are hoping for
reassurance that the Fed's bond purchases will continue.
 
    The spot price of gold was up 0.6 percent at
$1,274.29 an ounce by 4:45 p.m. EST (2145 GMT), extending last
week's rise of nearly 2 percent. 
    Commodity prices at 4:55 p.m. EST (2155 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG
US crude             100.00     0.12   0.1%
Brent crude         108.52    -1.05  -1.0%
Natural gas           4.579   -0.196  -4.1%
                                                          
US gold             1274.80    11.50   0.9%
Gold                1274.26    -0.03   0.0%
US Copper              3.22    -0.01  -0.4%
LME Copper         7095.00   -46.00  -0.6%
Dollar               80.648   -0.044  -0.1%
CRB              288.888   -0.887  -0.3%
                                                          
US corn               443.00    -1.25  -0.3%
US soybeans          1325.50    -6.00  -0.5%
US wheat              584.75     7.25   1.3%
                                                          
US Coffee            136.20     0.50   0.4%
US Cocoa            2910.00   -12.00  -0.4%
US Sugar              15.64    -0.09  -0.6%
                                                         
US silver            20.112   19.913   1.6%
US platinum         1385.90     6.70   0.0%
US palladium         716.75     7.95   1.1%

 (Editing by David Gregorio)
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