COMMODITIES-Oil rallies on Egypt concerns; grains, metals firm too
CHICAGO, July 3 (Reuters) - U.S. commodities rallied for the third day in a row on Wednesday, with oil topping $100 a barrel for the first time since September on concerns about Egyptian unrest and tight supplies.
Grains and precious metals also posted strong gains as a weakening U.S. dollar added to the bullish tone hanging over the markets.
The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index rose 0.75 percent, its third straight day of gains, in a shortened session ahead of the U.S. Independence Day holiday. The index hit its highest level in nearly two weeks on Wednesday.
Front-month U.S. crude oil futures rose $1.42 to $101.02 a barrel. Oil prices peaked at $102.18, their highest since May 2012, during the session.
Weekly inventory data showed that U.S. stockpiles posted their biggest drop for this time of year in nearly 13 years. Worries the unrest in Egypt could destabilize the Middle East, which pumps a third of the world's oil, also contributed to the rally in energy markets.
Rising export demand for U.S. wheat keyed the strength in the grain markets. U.S. supplies were affordable to overseas buyers after prices dipped to their lowest in a year earlier this week. China snapped up 360,000 tonnes of U.S. wheat for delivery this marketing year.
The front-month Chicago Board of Trade July soft red winter wheat contract closed up 8-1/4 cents at $6.57-3/4 per bushel, its biggest gain in two weeks.
"We have seen a bit of an improved tone come through pricing after bearishness over the past few days," said Luke Mathews, a commodities strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
July corn rose 5-1/2 cents to $6.78-1/4 per bushel amid talk of tight supplies before this fall's harvest. Tight supplies also buoyed soybeans, with the spot July contract adding 10-1/2 cents to $15.83-1/2 a bushel.
The weak dollar and bargain buying spurred gains in gold, which many traders said still remained fundamentally weak after hitting its lowest level in nearly three years on Friday.
U.S. gold futures for August delivery rose 0.76 percent to $1,251.9 an ounce.
(Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)