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By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK, Feb 26 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
Meat products such as lean hog futures and live
cattle continued to post gains on concerns of tighter
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
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
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)