August 30, 2013 / 9:25 PM / 4 years ago

COMMODITIES-Oil, gold slide but post big monthly gains

* Brent crude up 6 pct for Aug, gold rises more than 5 pct
    * Platinum, natgas and cocoa among other outperformers
    * CRB index rises 3 pct on month, up most in 6 months

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Oil and gold prices fell again
on Friday after Britain refused to back a U.S.-led military
strike on Syria, but both markets ended August sharply higher
after rallying with other commodities in recent weeks.
    Platinum, natural gas and cocoa had
some of the biggest monthly gains among raw materials, due to
encouraging U.S. economic data and supply concerns.  
    The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index
, a closely watched indicator for the sector, fell
about 1 percent on the day but rose nearly 3 percent for August,
its best performance in six months.
    Brent crude, the benchmark for oil, gained about 6 percent
for the month. Gold, platinum and cocoa rose more than 5 percent
each. Natural gas finished about 4 percent higher.
    Analysts cautioned that the drop in oil and gold prices over
the past two sessions could lead to further declines if planned
military action against Syria does not disrupt crude supplies
from the Middle East.
    They said any move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to taper its
economic stimulus programs by next month could also put a dent
on commodity prices.
    "By early next week, Syrian strike or no strike, we could
see investor focus start to shift towards the upcoming Fed
meeting where we suspect that the central bank will go through
with a limited reduction in its bond buying program," Edward
Meir, analyst at INTL FC Stone, wrote in a commentary. 
    "If our assessment is correct, this should generate a
short-lived negative response in most commodity markets."Brent crude settled down $1.15, or 1 percent, at
$114.01 a barrel. For the week, it rose 2.7 percent, while on
the month, it was up 5.9 percent.
    U.S. crude, the main component on the CRB index,
finished at $107.65 a barrel, down 1 percent on the day and
week. For the month, it rose 2.6 percent.
    Oil prices rallied sharply earlier in the week as the United
States pushed for a joint Western strike against the forces of
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad which it accused of using
chemical weapons on civilians.
    On Thursday, prices fell on signs that the strike may be
delayed. Prices slid again on Friday after Britain's parliament
voted against joining any military action on Syria. 
    Analysts said traders also trimmed their risk in commodities
before the long Labor Day holiday weekend in the United States.
A strong dollar also pressured prices for raw materials
denominated in the currency, as the greenback hit a four-week
high against a basket of major currencies.
    In gold, the spot price of bullion traded at around
$1,394 an ounce by 3:20 p.m. EDT (1920 GMT), down about 1
percent on the day. For the week, it fell 0.1 percent and for
the month, it rose nearly 5.5 percent. 
    Copper, another important commodity for investors and a raw
material for the building and power generation industries, also 
saw price gains in August, although not as much as that of oil
and gold.
    Benchmark copper futures in London settled at $7,905
a tonne, up about 3 percent for the month. It fell nearly 1
percent on the day and 3.5 percent on the week after worries
about demand from China. 
    Commodities that posted losses in August include orange
juice, which tumbled 5 percent; wheat which fell
more than 3 percent and cotton, which slipped 2 percent.
 Prices at 5:00 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT)      
                              LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                              CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    107.63    -1.17  -1.1%   17.2%
 Brent crude                 114.04    -1.12  -1.0%    2.6%
 Natural gas                  3.581   -0.037  -1.0%    6.9%
 US gold                    1419.00     0.00   0.0%  -15.3%
 Gold                       1394.59   -13.05  -0.9%  -16.7%
 US Copper                     3.23    -0.02  -0.8%  -11.6%
 LME Copper                 7100.00   -53.00  -0.7%  -10.5%
 Dollar                      82.035    0.087   0.1%    6.9%
 CRB                        291.162   -2.631  -0.9%   -1.3%
 US corn                     495.00    -2.25  -0.5%  -29.1%
 US soybeans                1424.00    -6.00  -0.4%    0.4%
 US wheat                    643.25     2.00   0.3%  -17.3%
 US Coffee                   112.10    -1.05  -0.9%  -22.0%
 US Cocoa                   2413.00   -43.00  -1.8%    7.9%
 US Sugar                     16.34    -0.03  -0.2%  -16.2%
 US silver                   23.463   23.222   1.6%  -22.4%
 US platinum                1527.10     4.70   0.0%   -0.8%
 US palladium                722.10   -15.65  -2.1%    2.7%
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