(In last paragraph, corrects direction of WTI to 'higher')
By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK Oct 24 Gold prices hit one-month peaks on Thursday on expectations the Federal Reserve would have to sustain its stimulus efforts owing to relatively high U.S. jobless claims, while technical support ended a rout in U.S. crude oil.
Copper dipped to its lowest level in nearly two weeks as persistent concerns about credit tightening in top metals consumer China offset upbeat manufacturing growth there.
Cocoa dropped for a second straight session in New York after hitting a two-year high earlier in the week, a level viewed by many dealers as overbought.
Raw sugar fell to a one-week low, after warehouse fires in Santos, Brazil, pushed the market to one-year highs six sessions ago. Arabica and robusta coffee closed down at multi-year lows.
Soybeans were one of the few commodities that bucked the broadly lower trend in crop markets, turning higher after the release of export data showing huge U.S. exports of soymeal .
The Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB index settled flat as the losses in sugar, cocoa offset gains in 11 of the 19 markets it tracked. Lean hog futures rose nearly 2 percent to lead the CRB's advance, while gold, silver, aluminium and gasoline climbed about 1 percent.
Gold broke above $1,350 an ounce for the first time in more than a month, on rekindled buying interest prompted by ideas that the Fed will continue its monetary stimulus after Thursday's disappointing U.S. jobless claims data.
Bullion also rallied after the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell less than expected last week.
By 3:00 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), the spot price of bullion was up 1.2 percent at $1,348.21 an ounce, after scaling $1,368.01 earlier, its highest since Sept. 20.
U.S. gold futures for December settled up $16.30 an ounce at $1,350.30, with trading volume on track to finish near their 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
"Overall, gold should be supported in the short term, especially if U.S. data keeps falling short of expectations ... that should put further pressure on the dollar and reinforce the argument for the Fed to keep its stimulus," said MKS SA Senior Vice President Bernard Sin.
In oil, the benchmark European Brent slid while U.S. crude futures recouped losses in choppy trade, as traders bet that an abrupt slump earlier this week in the hotly traded Brent-WTI spread had gone too far.
Brent closed down 81 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $106.99 a barrel. U.S. crude's WTI settled 25 cents, or 0.3 percent, higher at $97.11 a barrel. The spread between the two CL-LCO1=R fell back to around $10 after blowing out to a 6-month high above $13 at one point on Wednesday. (Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)