December 14, 2012 / 9:26 PM / in 5 years

COMMODITIES-Biggest rally in two weeks after China data

* Main index up 0.75 pct, biggest gain since Nov
    * Oil leads on less gloomy view of world economy
    * Stalled fiscal cliff talks keep pressure on

    NEW YORK, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Commodities staged their
biggest collective gain in two weeks on Friday, as upbeat
economic data from China and the United States offset concerns
about the euro zone's worsening condition and the looming fiscal
crisis in Washington.
    China's vast manufacturing sector expanded in early December
at the fastest pace in 14 months as new orders and employment
rose, a survey showed. U.S. factory output also posted its
sharpest increase in nearly a year in November, helping temper a
generally gloomy view of the global economy. 
    Oil prices led the rally, rising by about 1 percent, while
grain markets ended a mostly negative week on a positive note.
Copper nudged higher and gold was flat. A 0.4 percent decline in
the U.S. dollar index also aided raw materials.
    The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index rose 0.75
percent to 294.9, ending the week almost completely unchanged.
The index is currently down 3.4 percent for the year.
    "Oil is particularly dominated by Chinese potential demand,
and any sign of an upturn in China tends to have a positive
effect on oil," said Tony Machacek, a broker at Jefferies Bache
in London.
    But the outlook for the euro zone economy remains gloomy.
Disappointing German manufacturing sector figures and a rise in
euro zone unemployment overshadowed a small pick-up in
purchasing manager data.
    Meanwhile talks designed to avert the "fiscal cliff" were
seen at an apparent standstill on Friday, heightening the risk
that the discussions may drag into 2013, when $600 billion in
tax hikes and spending cuts that could tip the U.S. economy back
into recession take effect. 
    
    OIL UP, BP REFINERY DELAYED 
    Brent January crude rose $1.24, or 1.15 percent, to
settle at $109.15 a barrel on expectations for improved demand
in China, the world's No. 2 oil consumer. For the week, Brent
rose $2.13, or 2.0 percent. 
    But the main focus for many traders was news of delays at BP
Plc's huge refinery in Whiting, Indiana, which is
undergoing a revamp. BP has pushed back the start-up date of its
revamped 260,000 bpd sour crude unit by 30-to-45 days until
mid-April, industry intelligence group IIR Energy reported.
    "It looks like the glut (in the U.S. Midwest) is now going
to last at least another quarter," said Amrita Sen, chief oil
analyst at Energy Aspects in London.
    
    GRAINS GAIN 
    U.S. grain futures gained on the day, with wheat bouncing
from its lowest in months and corn breaking a six-session losing
streak that had tested key support at around $7.20 a bushel.
    U.S. soybean futures rose for a third straight session,
nearing psychological resistance at $15 per bushel, after data
showed November's soybean crush was the largest in nearly three
years, showing that end-user demand was still robust.
    "You are confirming the idea that we are not rationing the
demand," said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity
Analytics in Lafayette, Indiana.
    
    
 Prices at 3:59 p.m. EST (2059 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    86.83     0.94   1.1%  -12.1%
 Brent crude                109.20     1.29   1.2%    1.7%
 Natural gas                 3.314   -0.033  -1.0%   10.9%
 
 US gold                   1695.80     0.20   0.0%    8.2%
 Gold                      1694.25    -2.44  -0.1%    8.3%
 US Copper                  366.50     2.05   0.6%    6.7%
 LME Copper                8065.00    -9.00  -0.1%    6.1%
 Dollar                     79.599   -0.329  -0.4%   -0.7%
 
 US corn                    718.75     6.50   0.9%   11.2%
 US soybeans               1496.00    19.50   1.3%   24.8%
 US wheat                   801.00     8.00   1.0%   22.7%
 
 US Coffee                  137.40     2.15   1.6%  -39.8%
 US Cocoa                  2452.00     0.00   0.0%   16.3%
 US Sugar                    19.01     0.47   2.5%  -18.2%
 
 US silver                  32.223   -0.057  -0.2%   15.4%
 US platinum               1619.50     7.60   0.5%   15.3%
 US palladium               700.80    10.55   1.5%    6.8%

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