May 9, 2013 / 8:36 PM / in 5 years

COMMODITIES-Oil ends mixed, metals down while grains, PGMs surge

* Brent oil ends up, U.S. crude down; gold tumbles
    * Copper slips after hitting 3-week high on Wednesday
    * Soybeans and cocoa outperform, along with platinum

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, May 9 (Reuters) - Oil futures ended mixed for a
second straight day on Thursday and gold tumbled as traders
struggled to find middle ground between encouraging U.S. jobs
data and pressure on commodity prices from a strong dollar and
global growth worries.
    Copper retreated from Wednesday's three-week high
struck on strong Chinese trade data that indicated more demand
for the commodity from its No. 1 buyer. 
    Despite the weaker trend in oil and metals, the 19-commodity
Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index rose nearly
one-quarter of a percent point, helped by a rally in
agricultural markets ahead of key U.S. government crop data due
on Friday.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected forecast
thinner crop supplies as a whole in its monthly report on grains
and soybeans. Soybeans in Chicago hit a 2-month high in
anticipation of the USDA data. In New York, cocoa also
rose to a 2-month peak on short-covering and technical buying.
    In precious metals, palladium rallied 3 percent on
buying ahead of wage talks between South Africa's major mining
unions and producers of platinum group metals (PGMs). Prices
also ran up ahead of a revised restructuring plan for Anglo
American Platinum (Amplats), the world's No. 1 platinum
producer, to be unveiled on Friday. 
    Oil and metals prices cut their losses after the U.S. Labor
Department said the number of Americans filing new jobless
claims fell last week to its lowest in nearly 5 1/2 years,
signaling labor market resilience in the face of fiscal
    The dollar hit the highest in more than four years against
the yen and rose against the euro for the first time in two
days. A stronger dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities,
such as oil and copper, pricier when purchased with other
currencies, thus weighing on demand outside of the United
    Oil prices seesawed on pressure from the dollar's rally and
weaker supply-demand fundamentals versus support from the U.S.
jobless claims.
    Fundamentally, oil appears more as a sell than buy after
crude inventories in top consumer the United States hit a record
last week on rising domestic production versus falling demand.
    "There's too much crude oil production in the world, and
when traders become worried about that, they end up selling,"
said Tim Evans, energy specialist at Citi Futures Perspective.
    U.S. crude settled down 0.24 percent at $96.39 a
    But Europe's North Sea Brent crude, a more important
benchmark for oil, closed up 13 cents at $104.47 after initially
falling to $103.45, the lowest level in nearly a week. 
    The spot price of gold fell 1 percent to hover
around$1,458 an ounce late on Thursday afternoon versus
Wednesday's comparative level of $1,472. 
    Analysts said gold was pressured by fear that the strong
U.S. weekly employment data might result in the Federal Reserve
rethinking its stimulus support plan for the U.S. economy.
    The Fed has repeatedly said in the past few months that it
was committed to buying $85 billion of U.S. bonds a month,
although some officials at the central bank have said the policy
should be reviewed with the rebounding jobs market.
 Prices at 3:58 p.m. EDT (1958 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    95.86    -0.76  -0.8%    4.4%
 Brent crude                103.92    -0.42  -0.4%   -6.5%
 Natural gas                 3.983    0.005   0.1%   18.9%
 US gold                   1468.60    -5.10  -0.3%  -12.4%
 Gold                      1455.54   -16.65  -1.1%  -13.1%
 US Copper                  334.05    -3.00  -0.9%   -8.5%
 LME Copper                7354.00   -65.00  -0.9%   -7.3%
 Dollar                     82.723    0.827   1.0%    7.8%
 US corn                    694.50    19.50   2.9%   -0.5%
 US soybeans               1491.25    12.25   0.8%    5.1%
 US wheat                   716.25    19.50   2.8%   -7.9%
 US Coffee                  147.90     3.75   2.6%    2.9%
 US Cocoa                  2349.00   -42.00  -1.8%    5.1%
 US Sugar                    17.47     0.00   0.0%  -10.5%
 US silver                  23.911   -0.016  -0.1%  -20.9%
 US platinum               1516.50    11.60   0.8%   -1.4%
 US palladium               714.75    16.50   2.4%    1.6%
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