COMMODITIES-Oil, metals down; crops rise to push CRB up for week
* Natgas top gains, up over 4 pct on cold weather worry
* CRB up nearly 1 pct on week after sluggish 2013 start
* China a worry despite turnaround in market sentiment
NEW YORK, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Oil and metals prices fell on Friday on worries about the demand outlook while some major crops rose, helping a key commodities index edge higher for the day. For the week, the 19-commodity Thomson Reuters Jeffries CRB index also settled higher, helped by big rally across commodities on Thursday as the dollar slumped. The U.S. currency continued its trek lower in Friday's session, hitting its lowest against the euro since April as the market continued to digest the European Central Bank's decision on Thursday to hold off on an expected rate cut. On Friday, oil prices fell in heavy trading, dragged by a drop in gasoline on expectations that a large number of European cargoes could hit U.S. shores due to a seasonal slump in demand in West Africa. Copper closed lower on Friday as demand from top consumer China remained weak. A day earlier, the metal had hit a one-week high in European trading. Gold fell on Friday too, after growing inflation pressure in China dented hopes for more stimulus from the world's second-largest economy. The CRB index managed to settle a touch higher, helped by gains of about 2 percent or more in coffee, wheat and corn. Natural gas was the outlier, rising more than 4 percent, and closing up for a second day, backed by a bullish weekly report on inventories and colder forecasts for next week that could boost heating demand. For the week, the CRB was up 0.9 percent, almost identical to Thursday's daily gain, as the ECB's rate cut hold pushed the dollar sharply lower against the euro, boosting raw materials priced in the U.S. currency. Thursday's run-up on the CRB was the largest daily increase so far this year.
CHINA STILL A WORRY Some traders have doubts about whether commodities will continue to rise in the near term, unless giant consumer China starts to issue consistently strong economic data. While China's export growth rebounded surprisingly sharply to a seven-month high in December, its copper imports declined 6.6 percent from November. China is the world's largest buyer of copper and other base metals. "China spent much of last year accumulating stockpiles at attractive prices. Now a recovery is beginning to take place they have more than enough metal lying around," said Nic Brown, head of commodities research at Natixis.
COPPER, BRENT OIL AND GOLD DOWN Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed down 0.8 percent at $8,045 a tonne. In crude oil, London's benchmark Brent settled down 1.1 percent at $110.64 a barrel, retreating below its 100-day moving average of $111.05. Volume in Brent crude was 50 percent above the 30-day norm, preliminary Thomson Reuters data showed. U.S. gasoline futures dropped 2 percent, the biggest daily decline since early November, amid talk of large volumes of European gasoline headed to the New York Harbor, delivery point for U.S. oil product futures, as fuel demand in West Africa declined seasonally. In gold, the spot price of bullion slipped below its 200-day moving average, down 0.7 percent to hover around $1,662 late Friday afternoon in New York.
GRAINS JUMP On the grains side, front-month corn on the Chicago Board of Trade settled up 1.4 percent at $7.083/4 a bushel -- after setting a three-week peak above $7.23 -- on tighter-than-expected supply projections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA, in hotly anticipated crop reports, pegged the U.S. corn stockpile at 8.03 billion bushels as of Dec. 1. That was 3 percent smaller than expected. Wheat had its biggest daily gain since late November. The front-month futures contract on the CBOT also rose 1.4 percent like corn to settle at $7.54-3.4 a bushel after a one-week week at $7.73. Arabica coffee jumped more than 2 percent to a one-month high in New York trading. The front-month contract settled up 3.70 cents, or 2.5 percent, at $1.5335 per lb, with trading volumes more than double the 30-day average, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Prices at 5:29 p.m. EST (2229 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 93.77 -0.26 -0.3% 2.1% Brent crude 110.47 -1.42 -1.3% -0.6% Natural gas 3.327 0.134 4.2% -0.7%US gold 1660.60 -17.40 -1.0% -0.9% Gold 1661.55 -0.89 -0.1% -0.8% US Copper 365.40 -5.50 -1.5% 0.0% LME Copper 8045.00 -70.00 -0.9% 1.4% Dollar 79.546 -0.192 -0.2% 3.6%US corn 708.75 10.00 1.4% 1.5% US soybeans 1424.75 7.25 0.5% 0.4% US wheat 754.75 10.25 1.4% -3.0%US Coffee 153.35 3.70 2.5% 6.6% US Cocoa 2256.00 -13.00 -0.6% 0.9% US Sugar 19.17 0.21 1.1% -1.7%US silver 30.408 -0.510 -1.6% 0.6% US platinum 1629.30 -3.10 -0.2% 5.9% US palladium 701.45 -0.75 -0.1% -0.3%