September 13, 2013 / 8:43 PM / 4 years ago

COMMODITIES-Gold at five-week lows on Fed worry; oil mixed on Syria

NEW YORK, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Gold hit five-week lows on Friday on anxiety over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will pare its stimulus program when it meets next week, and oil settled mixed after negotiations over Syria’s chemical weapons put investors back on edge.

In industrial metals, lead prices tumbled more than 2 percent to a six-week low of 2,070 a tonne after inventories for the battery-making material jumped nearly 30 percent.

Cocoa bucked the broadly lower trend in commodities. Futures of the confection and beverage material hit a one-year high above $2,600 a tonne in New York on signs of improved demand, and dry weather in top growing region West Africa.

The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index fell 0.4 percent, after gaining a cumulative 0.7 percent in the two previous sessions.

Gold settled lower for a second straight day, finishing its worst week in over two months as traders became risk averse ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy-making meeting next week.

Easing tensions over Syria and poor technical momentum also weighed on bullion.

Some analysts are convinced the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting next week could indicate a timeline for the central bank to pare back its monthly bond purchases of $85 billion that have been integral to higher gold prices.

The FOMC is expected to release a policy statement at the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday.

“If the Fed defers the decision on tapering, we could well see gold take back some of the ground that has (been) lost in the last few days,” Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said.

U.S. gold futures for December settled down $22 at $1,308.60 an ounce.

Bullion’s spot price hit its lowest point since Aug. 8 at $1,304.56, and was down 0.2 percent at $1,317.86 an ounce by 3:17 p.m. EDT (1917 GMT). It lost 5.2 percent this week, its biggest loss since the week of June 21.

In oil, benchmark Brent crude out of Europe’s North Sea crept higher just before the close of trading on worries about the negotiations between the United States and Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons.

Brent settled up 15 cents at $112.78 a barrel as investors piled in ahead of the weekend, lifting prices and capping a session of mostly selling.

U.S. crude pared some of its earlier losses that came after weak consumer confidence and retail sales data pointed toward slower U.S. economic growth in the third quarter. It closed down 39 cents at $108.21 a barrel, after sliding to $107.23 earlier.

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