* U.S. crude at 9-month high on fear Iraq tension may hit
* Nickel at 2-month low on talk Indonesia may lift export
* Platinum, palladium suffer biggest loss in nearly a year
* Big supplies hit sugar, wheat; cocoa soars then slips
By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK, June 12 Commodity futures saw some of
their most volatile moves for the year on Thursday, with U.S.
crude oil at nine-month highs on worries escalating violence in
Iraq could disrupt supplies, while most other markets hit
multi-month lows on weaker fundamentals.
Nickel sank to a two-month low of $17,700 a tonne on
persistent profit-taking after months of rallying on
expectations an Indonesian ban on ore exports would lift the
physical market. Copper meanwhile hit a 1-1/2 month low
of around $6,614 a tonne.
Platinum fell 3 percent to $1,438 an ounce and
palladium tumbled 4 percent to under $824 an ounce, their
biggest daily losses in nearly a year. The platinum metals group
suffered declines after South African producers said they had
reached "in principle" undertakings with mine workers' unions to
end a crippling five-month strike.
Raw sugar hit an eight-week bottom of 16.71 cents a
lb, pressured by a large surplus supply. U.S. wheat
hovered near a 3-1/2 month low of below $5.87 a bushel amid
ample inventories and signs of stiff export competition from
Black Sea region grains.
Cocoa soared to a 33-month peak of $3,119 a tonne, as
confectioner Mars Inc predicted higher chocolate demand, before
profit-taking took the market down 2 percent for its sharpest
loss in six weeks.
The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB Index was
up 0.7 percent by 12:45 p.m. ET (1645 GMT) as the rally in oil
was partially offset by losses elsewhere on the complex. While
the CRB represents 19 commodities, nearly a quarter of its
weighting is made up of U.S. crude.
Oil prices surged on growing alarm that Sunni rebels had
overrun Iraq's second-largest city and moved in on its largest
refinery at Baiji.
U.S. crude was up 1.5 percent at $105.92 after touching a
Sept. 19 peak at $106.53. Brent crude jumped 2 percent
to above $112 a barrel, near a three-month high.
The oil markets showed muted reaction earlier this week to
news about the Sunni rebels, an al Qaeda splinter group, but
began to take more notice as they seemed to make rapid advances
toward the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.
"I would entirely ascribe this move to the insurrection in
the north of Iraq," Christopher Bellew, a trader at Jefferies
Bache, said. "If this conflict knocked out Iraq as an exporter,
that would have significant impact on prices."
Even so, some analysts pointed out that most of Iraq's oil
output and export facilities were in Shi'ite areas in the south
of the country, where al Qaeda-inspired groups had little
(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)