April 30, 2013 / 9:01 PM / 5 years ago

COMMODITIES-Mostly down for April after brutal mid-month selloff

* Copper down 7 pct for April, sharpest drop since May 2012
    * Brent oil also off 7 pct on month, biggest drop since June
    * Gold loses 8 pct for April, sharpest slide since December

 (Adds monthly gains in wheat and cocoa that buck April trend,
para 2; updates price table at bottom)
    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - Oil and copper fell on
Tuesday, finishing April with the largest monthly declines in
nearly a year, and gold slipped as well on uncertainty whether
U.S. and European central banks will favor more monetary easing
when they meet later in the week.
    Wheat and cocoa were among the few markets that
bucked April's broadly weaker trend in commodities. Wheat
rallied 5 percent for the largest monthly gain since July, while
cocoa jumped 8 percent for the biggest monthy rise since August.
    The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a
closely-watched indicator for commodity prices, finished nearly
3 percent down for April and almost half a percentage point
lower for the session.
    The slump came despite the dollar's drop to a 2-month low
against a basket of currencies on Tuesday, after an April
reading for business activity in the U.S. Midwest unexpectedly
    While a weak dollar should logically stir inflation concerns
that boost commodities, analysts said investors were taking
their cue more from global economic data that had lately been
    Signs of stagnating growth in China, euro zone debt trouble
and uncertainty about further U.S. economic stimulus led in
mid-April to one of the most brutal commodity sell-offs. Oil's
benchmark Brent crude fell below $100 a barrel for the first
time in nine months, gold had its biggest loss in dollar terms
and copper sank to an 18-month low at the height of the tumble.
    Prices have since recovered but were in a range as investors
tried to figure out if policy makers at the U.S. Federal Reserve
would affirm the central bank's economic stimulus plans in
meetings scheduled this week. Bond-buying by the Fed had fueled
investment activity in commodities for more than two years now.
    Investors were also looking out for a possible rate cut by
the European Central Bank later this week as the ECB tries to
shore up flagging growth in the euro zone.
    "In the last couple of weeks, economic data all over the
world has capped the upside, and until data shows a strong
rebound, there's little chance for a bounce back," said Andy
Sommer, analyst at EGL in Dietikon, Switzerland.
    While the mid-April market tumble may be overdone, "any
price recovery from here is likely to be mild, divergent and
difficult to sustain without an improvement in growth," Barclays
Capital added in a second quarter outlook on commodities.
    On Tuesday, London's Brent crude closed at $102.37 a
barrel, down 1.4 percent on the day. For the month, the market
was down more than 7 percent, its sharpest loss since May. 
    Benchmark three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange
 closed at $7,055 a tonne, down 1.4 percent for the
session. For April, LME copper was off nearly 7 percent, its
biggest drop since May. 
    The spot price of gold was at around $1,473 an ounce,
about 0.2 percent cheaper on the day and nearly 8 percent lower
for April -- its sharpest monthly drop since December. 
 Prices at 4:04 p.m. EDT (2004 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    93.06    -1.44  -1.5%    1.4%
 Brent crude                101.71    -2.10  -2.0%   -8.5%
 Natural gas                 4.343   -0.049  -1.1%   29.6%
 US gold                   1472.10     4.70   0.3%  -12.2%
 Gold                      1475.39    -0.40   0.0%  -11.9%
 US Copper                  318.75    -3.90  -1.2%  -12.7%
 LME Copper                7055.00   -98.50  -1.4%  -11.0%
 Dollar                     81.726   -0.421  -0.5%    6.5%
 US corn                    683.25    -0.75  -0.1%   -2.1%
 US soybeans               1467.75    -4.00  -0.3%    3.5%
 US wheat                   721.75    12.00   1.7%   -7.2%
 US Coffee                  135.10     1.35   1.0%   -6.1%
 US Cocoa                  2368.00    33.00   1.4%    5.9%
 US Sugar                    17.60     0.15   0.9%   -9.8%
 US silver                  24.185    0.019   0.1%  -20.0%
 US platinum               1507.20    -0.20   0.0%   -2.0%
 US palladium               697.80    -1.40  -0.2%   -0.8%
 (Editing by Andrew Hay and Alden Bentley)
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