* CRB index up 1.5 pct, largest daily rise since Nov 19
* Syria chemical weapons scare boosts oil, weak dollar rest
* Damage to crops from weather and US stocks rally also help
By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK, April 25 Oil and gold prices surged on
Thursday, recovering further from mid-April's market tumble and
leading commodities to their biggest daily gain in five months
on geopolitical worries, a weak dollar and weather-related crop
Jitters over U.S. intelligence reports suggesting Syria
possibly used chemical weapons sparked a rally in oil. The
dollar's fall to a near three-week low against the euro
fed an already strong physical appetite for gold and boosted
other metals too.
In grains, fears of crop damage from a winter freeze ramped
up wheat prices.
A run-up in U.S. stocks also bolstered risk appetite across
financial markets, analysts said.
The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a
commodities bellwether that tracks 19 mostly U.S.-traded
markets, settled up 1.5 percent. Its largest previous gain in a
day was on Nov. 19, when it rose 1.6 percent.
Thursday's rally came a week after one of the sharpest
sell-offs in commodities triggered by worries about stagnating
China growth, fresh euro zone debt trouble and uncertainties
over U.S. stimulus. The mid-April market tumble had sent crude
oil prices to 9-month lows and caused gold to suffer its largest
ever loss in dollar terms over a two-day period.
Since then, commodities had been recovering.
With Thursday's run-up, London's benchmark Brent crude
had ended five of the last six sessions higher. U.S.
crude, traded in New York, had closed up in seven out of
the last eight sessions.
Gold has retraced about half of its losses after falling a
combined $225 an ounce over a two-day stretch in mid-April.
"What we saw today was a clear shift in sentiment in markets
across the commodities complex," said Adam Sarhan, founder of
Sarhan Capital in New York.
In oil, Brent settled at $103.41 a barrel, up 1.7 percent on
the day but still down more than 6 percent on the month. U.S.
crude finished at $93.64 a barrel, up 2.4 percent for the
session but off 4 percent for April.
Oil prices surged after U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
said U.S. intelligence had confirmed that Syria possibly used
chemical weapons on its people -- an event that could be a
game-changer in Washington's position on the bitter civil war in
The Syrian news creates "a geopolitical dimension to the
market (that) trumps any macroeconomic data" on oil, said
Michael Korn, president at Skokie Energy in Princeton, New
Gold surged 2.5 percent, trading above $1,465 an ounce for
its biggest daily rise since June, as physical buyers kept
scooping up the precious metal at prices viewed as a bargain
after bullion's two-year low below $1,340 hit on April 15.
Silver rallied 5 percent, and platinum group metals
gained 2 percent.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME)
hit a session peak of $7,197 a tonne, its highest since
April 17, and finished at $7,180 from Wednesday's close of
U.S. wheat futures jumped 1.3 percent to above $7 per
bushel, posting its biggest one-day advance in two weeks, on
concerns about production declines in hard red winter wheat due
to winter freeze damage.
Prices at 4:52 p.m. EDT (2052 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD
CLOSE CHG CHG CHG
US crude 93.25 1.82 2.0% 1.6%
Brent crude 103.09 1.36 1.3% -7.2%
Natural gas 4.167 0.001 0.0% 24.4%
US gold 1461.80 38.40 2.7% -12.8%
Gold 1465.90 35.10 2.5% -12.4%
US Copper 324.25 7.75 2.4% -11.2%
LME Copper 7180.00 150.00 2.1% -9.5%
Dollar 82.771 -0.277 -0.3% 7.8%
US corn 645.25 6.00 0.9% -7.6%
US soybeans 1423.50 18.50 1.3% 0.3%
US wheat 701.25 8.75 0.0% -9.9%
US Coffee 137.20 -1.20 -0.9% -4.6%
US Cocoa 2359.00 37.00 1.6% 5.5%
US Sugar 17.41 0.01 0.1% -10.8%
US silver 24.140 1.307 5.7% -20.1%
US platinum 1462.80 33.00 2.3% -4.9%
US palladium 681.40 13.75 2.1% -3.1%