* CRB index down for second straight session
* London's Brent rallies on fresh Iran concerns
* Grains, gold, natgas lead market lower
NEW YORK, Feb 7 Commodities fell for a second
session on Thursday, led by gold grains and natgas markets,
after European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi ignited
renewed fears over the debt-laden euro zone, a major user of
industrial raw materials.
London's Brent crude rallied amid fresh concerns over
supplies from Iran.
Otherwise commodities fell in tandem with U.S. equities on
recession worries after Draghi's comments triggered a nearly 1
percent drop in the euro against the dollar.
Draghi said that economic activity in the euro area should
gradually recover later in 2013 but there are more negative
risks than positive ones.
"Draghi's comments were neutral to modestly dovish, which
means a rate cut is still on the table," said Ben Emons, senior
vice president/global portfolio manager, at Newport Beach,
California-based PIMCO, which had $2 trillion in assets as of
Even so, there were signs that the economies of the United
States and China, the world's two top commodity consumers, are
recovering at a quicker pace than before.
The Chinese economy ended seven straight quarters of slowing
growth with a 7.9-percent lift in the fourth quarter, data
showed on Wednesday.
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless
benefits fell last week and put the four-week average reading at
a near five-year low, but other data showed a productivity drop
in the fourth quarter due to weak economic output.
The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index settled
down 0.65 percent, falling for a second session and piercing its
20-day moving average.
Brent crude oil rose to a near five-month high above $117 a
barrel after Iran rejected calls for direct talks with the
United States, while U.S. crude prices fell amid pressure from
growing domestic stockpiles in the Midwest.
Brent's premium over West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude
rose to more than $21 a barrel, the highest this year, after a
report said a key refinery in the U.S. Midwest would remain shut
for maintenance for longer than previously expected.
The delayed restart of a 260,000-barrel-per-day crude unit
at BP's Whiting, Indiana, refinery will potentially add to the
glut of oil at Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for the U.S.
Brent finished 51 cents higher to settle at $117.24
a barrel, the highest close since mid-September.
U.S. crude dropped 79 cents to $95.83 a barrel. The
Brent-WTI spread finished at $21.41 a barrel, the highest since
"The Brent market is a little more sensitive to geopolitical
risk and tensions, and reports that the leader in Iran said he
doesn't want to engage in direct talks with the United States,
that ratcheted up a bit of the geopolitical risk," said Gene
McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Gold fell in a volatile session on fresh concerns about the
health of the debt-laden euro zone following comments by ECB
President Mario Draghi.
Technical selling accelerated gold's losses after the metal
failed to rise above its 55-day moving average, which gold has
not closed above since late October.
"It was up earlier but couldn't get through a resistance
level," said COMEX gold options floor trader Jonathan Jossen.
"There is no interest in gold."
U.S. gold futures GCJ3 for April delivery settled down $7.50
at $1,671.30 an ounce, with trading volume in line with its
250-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
U.S. corn fell for a fifth straight session and hit a
four-week low as Brazil's government forecast a record-large
harvest this year, suggesting U.S. exports would face another
year of stiff competition from the world's No. 2 supplier.
Soybean futures rebounded from earlier declines after the
U.S. Department of Agriculture reported stronger-than-expected
export sales last week, but struggled to hold those gains on
forecasts for a massive South American harvest.
Wheat drifted lower with corn, falling for the fifth time in
six sessions amid forecasts for more precipitation in the
drought-stressed U.S. Plains wheat belt next week.
Trading volumes were modest as the market awaited Friday's
monthly USDA supply-and-demand report.
"With our tight old-crop bean situation, there's concern
that we could see some balance table tightening with higher
crush and maybe export numbers. The corn is the other side with
some fear that we might see lower exports," said Don Roose,
president of U.S. Commodities.