COMMODITIES-Up despite strong dlr; first CRB weekly gain in 5 wks
* Gasoline up 2.6 pct, boosted by ethanol credits
* Corn rises 2 pct as USDA forecasts tight supply
* Cocoa jumps 2.8 pct on short covering
* Orange juice up 7 pct after sharp cut in crop forecast
NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) - Commodities rose broadly on Friday due in part to bullish U.S. jobs data and a government crop report forecasting tight corn and orange juice supplies as the complex posted its first weekly gain after losses the four previous weeks. The gains came despite a strong dollar, which can slow sales of U.S. commodities to foreign buyers. Oil prices finished mixed on the day. London's benchmark Brent crude oil fell on the strength of the dollar. U.S. crude closed up by riding the rally in local gasoline, after higher-priced ethanol credits made European fuel imports too expensive. The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a closely-watched indicator of commodity prices, settled up 0.6 percent for the session. For the week, it rose 1.4 percent, after posting losses without a break in four previous weeks. Fourteen of the 19 markets tracked by the CRB ended up for the day. Prices of gasoline, corn and wheat all rose by nearly 3 percent. Orange juice, a largely domestic commodity in the United States, had the biggest gain of the day on the CRB, up 7 percent for the day and hit it highest so far in 2013. Juice prices surged after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report showing a 2.0 million box drop in its outlook for this year's crop in Florida, the top U.S. grower of oranges.
GASOLINE HITS FIVE-MONTH HIGH In energy markets, the front-month contract for U.S. gasoline settled up more than 8 cents at $3.2035 a gallon. It peaked at $3.1989 during the session, its highest since Sept. 28. Brokers and analysts said recent high prices for ethanol blending credits, or RINs, had closed the arbitrage window for gasoline imports from Europe. RIN stands for Renewable Identification Number, a numeric code that producers or importers of renewable fuels are required to generate for each gallon. Importers incur the obligation to have enough credits to comply with U.S. renewable fuel law and current high prices make them too expensive to buy. Bullish U.S. jobs data for February was another factor behind the gasoline rally, although the data also boosted the dollar against other major currencies. A strong dollar typically weakens demand for commodities from holders of other currencies.
"The combination of the spike in RINs and the better-than-expected jobs numbers, and a lot of short covering, pushed gasoline higher," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
CORN UP ON CROP TIGHTNESS, SHORT-COVERING LIFTS COCOA U.S. corn futures jumped on a tighter-than-expected supply outlook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA, in a monthly crop report, kept its forecast for supplies of both crops unchanged from February. Analysts polled for corn inventories 1.7 percent. The estimate for corn supplies was steady at 632 million bushels, a 17-year low. "There's more concern about the tightness in corn," said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities. Corn's most-actively traded contract in Chicago, May, settled up 13-3/4 cents, or 2 percent, at $7.25-1/4 a bushel. In New York-traded cocoa, the May contract finished up $58, or 2.8 percent, at $2,120 a tonne. "The market got a little short and is now having a bit of a short-covering backlash," a senior cocoa futures broker said.
Prices at 5:02 p.m. EST (2202 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 91.85 0.29 0.3% 0.0% Brent crude 110.72 -0.43 -0.4% -0.4% Natural gas 3.629 0.047 1.3% 8.3%US gold 1576.90 1.80 0.1% -5.9% Gold 1578.04 0.30 0.0% -5.8% US Copper 349.15 -1.00 -0.3% -4.4% LME Copper 7740.50 -24.50 -0.3% -2.4% Dollar 82.712 0.631 0.8% 7.7%US corn 725.25 13.75 1.9% 3.9% US soybeans 1508.50 5.00 0.3% 6.3% US wheat 690.00 3.25 0.5% -11.3%US Coffee 144.05 0.95 0.7% 0.2% US Cocoa 2120.00 58.00 2.8% -5.2% US Sugar 18.75 -0.02 -0.1% -3.9%US silver 28.948 0.140 0.5% -4.2% US platinum 1603.90 8.80 0.6% 4.2% US palladium 782.75 23.70 3.1% 11.3%