COMMODITIES-Natgas sinks again, gold and wheat also tumble; oil up

Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:50pm EST

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(Reuters is considering dropping the daily commodities wrap
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basis. Please send any comments on this move to Josephine Mason
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    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Losses in natural gas dominated
the action in commodities for a third straight session on
Wednesday, unraveling annual gains racked up earlier by the
heating fuel, while gold, silver and wheat prices also showed
significant declines.
    Meat products such as lean hog futures and live
cattle continued to post gains on concerns of tighter
supply.
    But at the other end of the agricultural spectrum, U.S.
wheat futures plunged 2.4 percent for their worst losses
in a month, pressured by worries that the recent run-up in
prices to a two-month high would make supplies from the United
States less competitive in global markets. 
    U.S. oil prices rose after government data showed a
surprisingly small build in crude oil inventories amid another
large drawdown at the American benchmark's delivery point. 
    The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity Index
 was barely changed at the close after the mixed
performance across the complex.
    U.S. natural gas futures ended nearly 5 percent lower on
Wednesday as the front-month March contract expired after a wild
ride that included touching the highest price in five years and
the biggest three-day fall in eight years. 
    "It has been a money game," said Steve Platt, an analyst at
Archer Financial in Chicago. "The market got overpriced relative
to coal and even maybe to power. You saw some pulling back on
the demand side even though the weather was pretty devastating."
    The March natural gas contract on the New York Mercantile
Exchange expired at $4.855 per million British thermal
units, down 24.1 cents, or 4.7 percent, on the day.
    This week's drop whittled the 2014 gain in gas futures to 15
percent from 53 percent at the high seen Monday as arctic
weather and record heating demand rapidly depleted gas supplies
in storage.
    Wednesday's decline followed a 6 percent drop on Tuesday and
an 11 percent fall on Monday after prices hit a five-year high
of $6.49 per mmBtu, continuing a trend of huge price swings this
winter. 
    Gold fell almost 1 percent to $1,330.70 an ounce,
retreating from a four-month high as a dollar rally and surging
U.S. new home sales dented bullion's safe-haven appeal. Silver
 fell 2.6 percent, partly in sympathy with gold. 
    
    
    Prices at 5:28 p.m. EST (2228 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG
US crude              97.29     0.76   0.8%
Brent crude         106.18    -0.04   0.0%
Natural gas           4.855   -0.241  -4.7%
                                                          
US gold             1328.20   -14.80  -1.1%  
Gold                1329.90    -0.80  -0.1%  
US Copper              3.24    -0.01  -0.4%
LME Copper         7026.00   -38.50  -0.5%
Dollar               80.406    0.267   0.3%
CRB              301.614    0.035   0.0%
                                                          
US corn               455.50    -0.25  -0.1%
US soybeans          1407.25     8.25   0.6%
US wheat              600.00   -15.00  -2.4%
                                                          
US Coffee            177.10     1.45   0.8%
US Cocoa            2909.00    10.00   0.3%
US Sugar              17.29    -0.05  -0.3%
                                                          
US silver            21.254   21.034   1.6%
US platinum         1429.10   -13.50   0.0%
US palladium         731.50    -4.60  -0.6%

 (Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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