April 4, 2013 / 9:10 PM / 4 years ago

COMMODITIES-Markets extend selloff after high US jobless claims

* New lows as traders await Friday's jobs report for March
    * Corn hits 9-mth bottom, Brent crude slips to 5-mth low
    * Gold at 10-month trough, copper up but seen vulnerable

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, April 4 (Reuters) - Corn, oil and gold prices hit
multi-month lows on Thursday while cotton joined the selloff in
commodities that extended to a fourth day after another
disappointing U.S. economic report raised worries about the
health of the world's largest economy.
    Prices of heating oil, gasoline and a few other
agricultural-based commodities also fell after an unexpected
jump in U.S. weekly jobless claims to a four-month high fueled
speculation that recovery was stagnating in the country's labor
    The jobless claims data came a day after a separate report
showing U.S. companies hired at the slowest pace in five months
in March. The two reports were released before the government's
all-important U.S. jobs data for March, due on Friday.
    Despite the gloom over the jobless claims data, stocks on
Wall Street rebounded as the Bank of Japan (BoJ)
surprised the world by promising to inject an extraordinary
stimulus of about $1.4 trillion into its economy in less than
two years. 
    But the vigor on equity markets did not cross over into
commodities as the BoJ stimulus pushed the dollar up 3 percent
against the yen, making commodities priced in dollars
less attractive to holders of the yen. 
    Corn prices hit a 9-month low and Brent crude oil a 5-month
    Gold tumbled to a 10-month bottom as the dollar
soared against the yen. Copper recovered from
Wednesday's 8-month low, but remained under pressure from weak
fundamentals, traders said.  
    Cotton fell 1 percent after weekly U.S. government
export data were not seen as strong enough to boost prices and
losses across commodities markets weighed. 
    The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index
 ended down nearly half a percent. The CRB has dropped
2.7 percent over the last four sessions, heading for its worst
week since late October.
    In Thursday's session, corn weighed most on the CRB, falling
nearly 2 percent on continued technical selling and fund
    Corn's front-month contract on the Chicago Board of Trade,
May, settled down 11-1/2 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $6.30
per bushel. Earlier in the session, it fell to $6.27, the lowest
spot price for U.S. corn since June 25. 
    Soybean was another agricultural market hit hard during the
session, tumbling to a 10-month low on worries that bird flu
cases in China may slow demand for animal feed there.
    "It's more psychological, more than having any impact on the
actual supply and demand for feed and meal," Anne Frick,
oilseeds analyst with Jefferies Bache in New York, said,
referring to the bird flu worries.
    May soybeans on the CBOT closed down 8-1/4 cents, or
0.6 percent, at $13.72 per bushel. During the session, it dipped
to $13.61, the lowest spot price for soybeans since June
    Brent crude prices fell to a November low of nearly $105 a
barrel after the jump in U.S. jobless claims sparked a second
day of heavy selling across oil markets.
    Brent, U.S. crude and U.S gasoline futures have all lost
near 5 percent over the last two trading sessions, with traders
citing ample supplies and concerns about demand.
    Brent finished down 0.7 percent on Thursday at
$106.34 a barrel. U.S. crude, the biggest component of
the CRB, settled down 1.3 percent at $93.26. Gasoline 
slipped 0.5 percent to close at $2.9010 a gallon. 
    Stephen Schork, editor of the commodities newsletter The
Schork Report, called the falling oil prices "the smoking gun
showing we're in a market that got itself extremely overbought."
 Prices at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2029 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    93.36    -1.09  -1.2%    1.7%
 Brent crude                106.44    -0.67  -0.6%   -4.2%
 Natural gas                 3.947    0.047   1.2%   17.8%
 US gold                   1551.80    -1.00  -0.1%   -7.4%
 Gold                      1553.27    -4.08  -0.3%   -7.2%
 US Copper                  335.15     1.85   0.6%   -8.2%
 LME Copper                7441.00    53.00   0.7%   -6.2%
 Dollar                     82.719    0.001   0.0%    7.8%
 US corn                    630.00   -11.50  -1.8%   -9.8%
 US soybeans               1372.00    -8.25  -0.6%   -3.3%
 US wheat                   694.00    -2.50  -0.4%  -10.8%
 US Coffee                  139.50     0.05   0.0%   -3.0%
 US Cocoa                  2141.00    -9.00  -0.4%   -4.2%
 US Sugar                    17.67     0.17   1.0%   -9.4%
 US silver                  26.767   -0.030  -0.1%  -11.4%
 US platinum               1516.70   -23.10  -1.5%   -1.4%
 US palladium               725.45   -30.00  -4.0%    3.1%

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