COMMODITIES-U.S. natgas hits 4-week high on weather, corn tumbles
NEW YORK, Aug 22 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas prices rose on Thursday, closing near a one-month high on warmer weather forecasts and tighter-than-expected inventory data, while domestic crude oil prices rose on encouraging economic data from the United States, Europe and China. Copper also rose while many other commodities fell as the dollar rallied on expectations that the Federal Reserve was on course to reduce its monthly bond purchases. Corn had the largest decline of the day, tumbling nearly 4 percent as heavier-than-expected rains in the northern U.S. crop belt eased fears of late-season crop damage. Live hog futures fell 1.7 percent, reacting to lower cash hog and pork prices amid a seasonal increase in hog supplies.
Arabica, the premium grade for coffee, slumped to a four-year low as investors fretted about plentiful supplies in top producer Brazil and about a stronger U.S. dollar. Raw sugar slipped to a four-week low. The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-CRB index closed flat, steadying from a two-day slide, as gains in natural gas and the CRB's main component, U.S. crude, offset declines in other commodities. Warmer Northeast and Midwest weather forecasts and an unexpectedly light weekly inventory build in U.S. natural gas drove the market to four-week highs in New York trading. Hot weather boosts demand for air-conditioning, much of which is powered by electricity generated from natural gas. Front-month gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange ended up 8.5 cents, or 2.5 percent, at $3.545 per million British thermal units, after climbing to a session high of $3.559 mmBtu. The rally came after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that total domestic gas inventories rose last week by 57 billion cubic feet (cf) to 3.063 trillion cf. Traders surveyed by Reuters had expected a 69 billion cf build. In oil, U.S. crude settled up 1.1 percent at $105.03 a barrel. Benchmark Brent crude out of Europe's North Sea finished up a modest 0.1 percent at $109.90. The market rose after data showed U.S. manufacturing activity hit a five-month high in August while euro zone business activity picked up broadly at a faster pace than expected. Activity in China's manufacturing sector also hit a four-month high as new orders rebounded.
In copper, the benchmark three-month contract on the London Metal Exchange ended at $7,320, from a last bid of $7,240 on Wednesday, after hitting a session high of $7,389.
Prices at 4:34 p.m. EDT (2034 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 105.10 1.25 1.2% 14.5% Brent crude 109.97 0.16 0.2% -1.0% Natural gas 3.545 0.085 2.5% 5.8% US gold 1371.20 0.60 0.0% -18.2% Gold 1374.80 9.06 0.7% -17.9% US Copper 3.33 0.02 0.7% -8.8% LME Copper 7320.00 80.00 1.1% -7.7% Dollar 81.458 0.245 0.3% 6.1% CRB 288.342 0.107 0.0% -2.3% US corn 487.50 -10.50 -2.1% -30.2% US soybeans 1322.00 -11.00 -0.8% -6.8% US wheat 630.50 -8.25 -1.3% -19.0% US Coffee 113.20 -0.30 -0.3% -21.3% US Cocoa 2420.00 0.00 0.0% 8.2% US Sugar 16.28 -0.04 -0.2% -16.6% US silver 23.035 22.805 1.7% -23.8% US platinum 1540.10 21.00 0.0% 0.1% US palladium 755.05 8.15 1.1% 7.4%