COMMODITIES-Grains gain on dry weather, weak U.S. data caps other markets
NEW YORK, Aug 26 (Reuters) - U.S. grain markets were the big winners on Monday, with wheat futures up more than 3 percent and corn and soybeans each soaring over 4 percent as dry, hot weather threatened crop output, while most other commodity markets rose only modestly. The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters-CRB index ended 0.7 percent higher, with many markets posting gains. London markets were closed for a banking holiday. U.S. copper prices, on the other hand, were one of the biggest losers on a percentage basis, as dollar gains and weak U.S. manufacturing data hurt demand prospects for the industrial metal. While crude oil prices jumped to five-month highs as tensions in the Middle East were stoked by the increasing possibility of a Western-led military response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, they ended with small losses. Brent crude futures for October delivery finished 31 cents lower at $110.73 a barrel, after trading as high as $111.68, their highest since April 2. Oil trading was also limited by London's public holiday. Commodities trading was generally choppy as the dollar edged higher despite an unexpected drop in U.S. durable goods orders. Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell in July by the most in nearly a year, and a gauge of planned business spending on capital goods also tumbled, casting a shadow over the economy early in the third quarter as well as prospects for raw industrial materials demand. Just the same, the dismal U.S. economic reports did little to change expectations that the Federal Reserve will wind down its stimulus program next month. Uncertainty over U.S. monetary policy and U.S. growth prospects kept spot gold prices propped up, though in check. They ended at modestly higher levels, after breaking above $1,400 an ounce for the first time since June 7. Spot gold edged up 0.3 percent at $1,400.61 an ounce a near three-month high. U.S. Comex gold futures for December delivery settled down $2.70 at $1,393.10 an ounce. Meanwhile, in the Midwest, new-crop U.S. soybean futures soared to an 11-month high and corn touched a one-month peak as hot, dry weather threatened to cut crops. Wheat jumped to its highest level in three weeks, buoyed by worries that a cold snap in Argentina will reduce the country's harvest. Forecasts for stressful weather in the U.S. farm belt rallied prices. Key growing states like Iowa and Illinois will be "completely dry this week and very warm," said Don Keeney, a meteorologist at MDA Weather Services. There is not much relief seen in the forecast for the next 15 days, he said. "The forecast has got everybody spooked," added Linn Group analyst Roy Huckabay.
Prices at 3:20 p.m. EDT (1920 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 106.12 -0.30 -0.3% 15.6% Brent crude 110.77 -0.27 -0.2% -0.3% Natural gas 3.513 0.028 0.8% 4.8% US gold 1393.00 -2.70 -0.2% -16.9% Gold 1397.36 0.92 0.1% -16.5% US Copper 3.32 -0.03 -0.9% -9.0% LME Copper 7360.00 40.00 0.5% -7.2% Dollar 81.405 0.043 0.1% 6.0% CRB 292.874 2.080 0.7% -0.7% US corn 515.75 20.25 4.1% -26.1% US soybeans 1427.75 62.50 4.6% 0.6% US wheat 654.75 20.25 3.2% -15.8% US Coffee 114.05 1.00 0.9% -20.7% US Cocoa 2447.00 20.00 0.8% 9.4% US Sugar 16.61 0.14 0.9% -14.9% US silver 24.010 23.773 1.7% -20.6% US platinum 1544.50 2.90 0.0% 0.4% US palladium 746.05 -4.80 -0.6% 6.1%