February 13, 2013 / 10:36 PM / 5 years ago

COMMODITIES-Range-bound trade in oil,most markets; natgas spikes

* CRB index virtually unchanged for 2 day
    * Brent crude ends up 6 cents after doubts on oil demand
    * Metals in quite trade ahead of G20 meeting
    * Natgas jumps 2 pct on forecasts for cold U.S. weather
    * Grains markets see little price change

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Most commodities were trapped
in range-bound trading for a second straight day on Wednesday,
with oil hampered by doubts over demand and metals affected by
caution ahead of a meeting of world finance ministers and
central bankers.
    Natural gas was an exception, rallying more than 2 percent
on expectations for a bullish inventory report from the U.S.
government on Thursday. Forecasts for colder U.S. weather in the
next two weeks helped underpin the run-up.
    A handful of commodities from orange juice to
aluminium and raw sugar rose about 1
percent, extending their trend higher or rebounding from a
recent slump.
    Others saw anemic price action.
    Oil, copper and gold moved less than half a
percent each.  
    Grains markets also saw little price change despite corn
 falling for a ninth straight session on improving crop
weather in South America; wheat rebounding from a
seven-month low and soybeans recovering from a one-month
    The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global
benchmark for commodities, settled virtually unchanged for a
second straight day, with 10 of the 19 markets it tracks ending
in positive territory.
    Traders said investors were mostly on the guard with the
dollar trading steady ahead of the two-day meeting of the
Group of 20 developed and emerging market economies in Moscow
beginning Friday. 
    Exchange rates are expected to be a hot topic at the G20
meet and any dollar strength is expected to weigh on demand for
commodities denominated in the U.S. currency. 
    "Although people are not expecting anything dramatic to be
said at the G20 meeting, there is still some uncertainty, which
may see short-term investors cover their short positions in
coming sessions," Societe Generale analyst Robin Bahr said.
    Front-month gas futures in New York ended up 7.6
cents, or 2.4 percent, at $3.306 per million British thermal
    Gas prices this year have mostly been stuck in a trading
range between $3.20 and $3.60 per mmBtu. But recent tests of
support have held and may continue to do so if U.S. Northeast
and Midwest temperatures turn colder later this week and kick up
demand for gas to heat homes and businesses. 
    "A lot of the buying had to do with the temperature outlook
which looks pretty cold, but the market is still range-bound,"
said Aaron Calder, analyst at Gelber & Associates in Houston.
    Traders said current gas prices were low enough to prompt
utilities to switch from coal to gas to generate power, while
hefty nuclear plant outages this week of more than 13,000
megawatts could boost gas demand further. 
    Gas-fired units are typically used to offset any shut
nuclear generation.
    Traders and analyst polled by Reuters also expect the U.S.
Energy Information Administration (EIA) to announce a
significant drop in gas inventories when the government-run
agency releases its weekly storage report on Thursday. 
    In oil, benchmark Brent crude in London rose 6 cents
to close at $118.72 a barrel, with gains were capped by a rise
in weekly U.S. oil inventories.
    U.S. crude inventories rose by 560,000 barrels in the week
ending Feb. 8, the EIA said in a report on U.S. crude stockpiles
issued a day before its report on gas inventories. 
    The inventory build in the world's largest oil consumer
weighed on prices of the New York-traded U.S. crude,
which closed down 50 cents at $97.01 a barrel.  
    "The underlying supply and demand fundamental picture really
hasn't changed. We have a lot of oil here in the United States,"
said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford,
 Prices at 5:11 p.m. EST (2211 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    97.17    -0.34  -0.4%    5.8%
 Brent crude                118.75     0.09   0.1%    6.9%
 Natural gas                 3.306    0.076   2.4%   -1.3%
 US gold                   1644.20    -4.50  -0.3%   -1.9%
 Gold                      1642.09    -0.06   0.0%   -1.9%
 US Copper                  374.25    -0.15   0.0%    2.5%
 LME Copper                8226.00   -10.00  -0.1%    3.7%
 Dollar                     80.065   -0.041  -0.1%    4.3%
 US corn                    695.50    -0.75  -0.1%   -0.4%
 US soybeans               1423.00     2.25   0.2%    0.3%
 US wheat                   735.50     3.50   0.5%   -5.5%
 US Coffee                  138.75    -1.90  -1.4%   -3.5%
 US Cocoa                  2143.00   -36.00  -1.7%   -4.2%
 US Sugar                    18.23     0.15   0.8%   -6.6%
 US silver                  30.869   -0.150  -0.5%    2.1%
 US platinum               1728.60    12.50   0.7%   12.3%
 US palladium               772.05     0.65   0.1%    9.8%
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