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COMMODITIES-Slower US jobs growth hits oil, metals; lifts gold
June 1, 2012 / 5:45 PM / 6 years ago

COMMODITIES-Slower US jobs growth hits oil, metals; lifts gold

* Gold’s one-day percent gain is biggest in over 2 years

* NYMEX oil tumbles over 3 pct, Brent below $100/barrel

* US payrolls up 69,000 in May versus 150,000 forecast

By Carole Vaporean

NEW YORK, June 1 (Reuters) - Most commodities slid on Friday as weak U.S. jobs data reinforced fears over slowing European and Asian economic growth, with gold logging its biggest one-day gain in more than two years as investors flocked to perceived safe havens.

The yellow metal shot up more than 3 percent to its highest since May 8 after data showed U.S. payrolls increased by far less in May than expected.

Oil prices sank, with Brent crude dropping below $100 a barrel to a near 16-month low as the jobs data, poor Chinese manufacturing figures and the euro zone’s debt crisis prompted a cross-market selloff.

Brent fell as much as 4 percent. It had dropped 14.7 percent in May, the biggest monthly decline since 2008.

U.S. payrolls growth stumbled and the unemployment rate rose for the first time in 11 months, data from the Labor Department showed, with nonfarm payrolls up only 69,000 jobs last month, the fewest additions in a year.

Analysts took a uniformly grim stance on the worsening jobs picture.

“The negative employment data caps the recent deterioration in global economic data. From China to Europe to the U.S., all the data have shown real slowing,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

“Energy prices had been underpinned by moderate growth expectations. The poor jobs data bodes poorly for gasoline demand, as well,” he said, adding that lower energy prices would be the only silver lining for the economy in the near future.

The benchmark Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, fell nearly 1 percent by noon EDT (1600 GMT). It ended May with a near 11 percent slide, the second-largest monthly decline since 2008.

Industrial feedstock copper sank to its lowest price this year and raw sugar slid to its weakest since August 2010.

A slower U.S. manufacturing pace in May added to copper’s woes, though a gauge of new orders rose to its highest in over a year, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

The U.S. data came after reports showing China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index eased to its weakest reading this year and Germany’s manufacturing sector contracted at the fastest pace in almost three years.

All three readings knocked copper to its fifth straight weekly decline, with prices entering negative territory for the year. The red metal tumbled to its lowest since Dec. 20 at $7,301 a tonne and was last at $7,343.50, down around 3 percent for the year.

Prospects for another round of stimulus from either the United States, Europe or China, or potentially all of them, along with a falling dollar propelled gold higher.

Bullion rallied to a peak at $1,617.11 an ounce. By midday, it had steadied around $1,612.79, up from $1,558.70 at Thursday’s close.

For months, the yellow metal had traded as a risk asset with investors selling it off, in part, to increase their cash positions as fears escalated over the euro zone’s debt crisis.

U.S. agricultural markets drew support from the falling dollar, with Chicago corn futures jumping 3 percent and soybeans also gaining. Wheat remained under pressure. (Additional reporting by Eric Onstad in London and Robert Gibbons in New York; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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