COMMODITIES-Grains, natgas jump on hot, drier US weather
NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Grains prices surged on Monday as dry weather threatened to trim U.S. crop yields, and gold and copper fell on the possibility of a cut in the U.S. monetary stimulus program starting next month. In energy markets, natural gas had its largest gain in a month on forecasts that hot weather would return to the midwest and northern United States, regions that are big users of gas to generate power for air conditioning. Oil prices slipped on profit-taking after rallying in the past week on unrest in Egypt. The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-CRB index rose by a modest 0.2 percent to close up for a fourth straight day. The advance was mainly helped by higher prices for grains such as corn, soybeans and wheat. "It's a weather market, there's not much rain," said Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup, referring to the drier conditions in the U.S. Midwest that were expected to result in crop stress and lower output. Corn's benchmark December contract on the Chicago Board of Trade rose nearly 5 percent to $4.86-1/4 a bushel before settling at $4.85-1/2. CBOT soybeans for November hit a eight-week high of $13.02-3/4 a bushel and settled at $13.03-1/4 a bushel, up 3.5 percent. Wheat for September closed up 1.7 percent at $6.41-1/2 a bushel. The drier crop weather comes as analysts were penciling in bumper U.S. corn and soybean harvests this year, after a wetter-than-usual spring delayed sowing and a mild summer boosted crop yields. Gold fell after hitting two-month highs earlier in the day as bond yields rose, signalling that the U.S. Federal Reserve could be moving closer to reducing monetary stimulus next month. The Fed publishes the minutes of its July 30-31 meeting on Wednesday, and uncertainty remains over the pace and timing of plans to trim its bond-buying program. The spot price of gold fell 0.7 percent to $1,366.42 an ounce by 1930 GMT, having earlier hit a two-month peak of $1,384.10. Benchmark U.S. gold futures were down 0.4 percent at $1,366.20. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed down 1.3 percent at $7,305 a tonne, as some investors booked profits after the market gained 1.7 percent last week.
Prices at 3:25 p.m. EDT (1925 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 106.91 -0.55 -0.5% 16.4% Brent crude 109.64 -0.76 -0.7% -1.3% Natural gas 3.463 0.095 2.8% 3.3% US gold 1366.20 -5.50 -0.4% -18.5% Gold 1366.51 -9.39 -0.7% -18.4% US Copper 3.33 -0.03 -1.0% -8.8% LME Copper 7306.00 -94.00 -1.3% -7.9% Dollar 81.253 -0.004 0.0% 5.8% CRB 293.068 0.577 0.2% -0.7% US corn 493.25 19.50 4.1% -29.4% US soybeans 1322.00 38.75 3.0% -6.8% US wheat 641.50 10.50 1.7% -17.5% US Coffee 119.25 -1.25 -1.0% -17.1% US Cocoa 2464.00 19.00 0.8% 10.2% US Sugar 16.53 -0.41 -2.4% -15.3% US silver 23.166 22.933 1.7% -23.4% US platinum 1509.00 -18.60 0.0% -1.9% US palladium 752.90 -10.15 -1.3% 7.0%