COMMODITIES-Brent oil jumps to Sept highs, cocoa hits 2-week peak
* Brent crude rallies on bullish euro zone, US ISM data
* Gasoline, heating oil, natural gas join oil rally
* Cocoa surges on technical buying, Ivorian worries
* Corn, wheat down on wetter weather outlook in Argentina
NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Oil rebounded on Tuesday, with London's Brent crude nearing a five-month high on rosy U.S. and European data, while cocoa jumped on technical buying and worries about tighter supply and political instability in top growing country Ivory Coast. Gasoline, heating oil and natural gas joined the oil rally, taking the energy complex higher, as U.S. stocks rebounded sharply a day after their biggest sell-off since November. The dollar's fall against the euro boosted demand for dollar-denominated commodities from holders of the single European currency. A survey showed business optimism in the euro zone at an eight-month high, indicating the bloc was recovering, although Germany's reading surged while France's plummeted to its lowest in nearly four years. The widening gap between the region's two biggest economies worried some analysts. Bucking the broadly higher trend in commodities were grains such as corn and wheat. Corn fell for a third straight session. Wheat was down for a fourth day, to a 3-1/2 week low. The selloff came after forecasts for beneficial rains in No. 3 exporter Argentina, and ahead of Friday's crop report for January from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Metals saw muted moves. Gold prices slipped after encouraging economic trends in the United States and the euro zone dimmed the precious metal's safe-haven appeal. In copper, the base metal's benchmark London-traded futures closed down on concerns about a corruption scandal in Spain and ahead of a general election in Italy later this month. U.S. copper futures, however, rose, rebounding with the oil and stocks markets which had closed down on Monday. The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index settled up 0.4 percent, with 12 of 19 markets on the commodities bellwether in positive territory. Natural gas and cocoa rose nearly 3 percent each.
EURO, US DATA BOOST OIL In oil, London's Brent closed up 0.8 percent, or 92 cents, at $116.52 a barrel. It had rallied earlier to $117.23, its highest since Sept. 14. U.S. crude settled up 0.5 percent, or 47 cents, at $96.64. Also boosting oil, the U.S. Institute for Supply Management showed an expansion of the services sector in January, which analysts said indicated moderate economic growth. The ISM data also showed its non-manufacturing employment index at a seven-year high, pointing to a labor market that should continue to strengthen in the months ahead. "This supports the evidence from January's payrolls report that the lingering fiscal uncertainty doesn't appear to be damaging hiring too much," Paul Dales, senior U.S economist at Capital Economics in Toronto, said in a note.
AUTOMATED BUY ORDERS HELP COCOA Cocoa hit a two-week high in New York trading and notched the largest one-day gain since mid-November, spurred by technical buying and supply concerns in top-grower Ivory Coast. The key March cocoa futures on ICE Futures U.S. settled up 2.5 percent, or $54, at $2,246 a tonne after earlier touching $2,249, the highest since Jan. 22. It was also the market's largest single-day rally since Nov. 14. "We are seeing a topside breakout coming from an oversold market. We definitely had some stops triggered," said Sterling Smith, futures specialist at Citigroup in Chicago. He was referring to the market breaking above recent session highs that initiated automatic buy orders. Some traders said there was little fundamental news behind the bounce in cocoa. But Hector Galvan, a senior market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago, pointed to the Ivory Coast, where dry weather and pirate activity had raised the specter of supply disruption from the world's largest producer. Arid weather in Ivory Coast has prompted concern over the output and quality of cocoa beans from there. The hijacking of a French tanker off the Ivorian coast added to worries over the country's cocoa exports. "Any instability in the region is bullish cocoa," Galvan said. Prices at 3:17 p.m. EST (2017 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 96.62 0.45 0.5% 5.2% Brent crude 116.49 0.89 0.8% 4.8% Natural gas 3.399 0.084 2.5% 1.4%US gold 1672.40 -2.90 -0.2% -0.2% Gold 1672.70 -1.30 -0.1% -0.1% US Copper 377.00 0.15 0.0% 3.2% LME Copper 8270.00 -35.00 -0.4% 4.3% Dollar 79.503 -0.051 -0.1% 3.6%US corn 729.00 -5.25 -0.7% 4.4% US soybeans 1495.50 6.75 0.5% 5.4% US wheat 757.50 -5.50 -0.7% -2.6%US Coffee 144.05 -0.30 -0.2% 0.2% US Cocoa 2246.00 54.00 2.5% 0.4% US Sugar 18.56 -0.17 -0.9% -4.9%US silver 31.875 0.159 0.5% 5.5%US palladium 765.45 7.65 1.0% 8.8%