August 14, 2014 / 5:30 PM / 3 years ago

COMMODITIES-CRB hits lowest since Feb as oil, metals prices slump

* Oil, copper down after German economy contracts in Q2

* China property sector slowdown, selling in US oil ETF pressure

By Barani Krishnan

NEW YORK, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Crude oil prices slumped about 2 percent Thursday, pressured by weak European data and selling in an U.S. exchange-traded oil fund, and joined by a slump in metals prices which helped push a key commodities index to a six-month low.

Yet, the overall commodity picture looked mixed, easing some of the broader pressure on the complex.

Sugar prices dropped but cocoa surged to a 3-year high before giving up gains.

Grains markets rose and gold prices were little changed. Natural gas was the best performer, surging more than 2 percent. .

The closely-watched 19-commodity Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB Index was down about 1 percent by 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT), hitting its lowest level since Feb 11.

The index was on track to a third straight day of losses, and was down about 2 percent so far for August.

Traders cited cooling euro zone economic growth in the second quarter and the slowdown in the Chinese property sector as among the main concerns of the markets.

Germany’s economy contracted by 0.2 percent on the quarter, undercutting Bundesbank forecasts. Euro zone industrial production contracted unexpectedly in June.

In China, new construction fell 12.8 percent from January to July as cash-strapped developers tried to clear huge inventories of unsold homes.

In oil markets, the front-month contract in U.S. crude fell 1.6 percent to around $96 a barrel.

It retreated more than 50 cents in a single minute as shares of U.S. Oil Fund, an exchange-traded fund (ETF), slumped. Almost 1 million shares of the ETF traded in just one minute, more than a third of its average 60-day daily trading volume.

Oil’s benchmark Brent crude out of London was down 1.9 percent, hovering around $102 a barrel.

In metals markets, copper prices fell to their lowest levels since late June.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell as low as $6,821 a tonne, its weakest since June 23. It closed at $6,825, down 0.9 percent from Wednesday’s last bid price. (Editing by Alden Bentley)

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