COMMODITIES-Oil down as Syria tensions ease; gold off on Fed watch
NEW YORK, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Oil prices closed sharply lower on Monday after the U.S. and Russia reached an agreement over the weekend to seize chemical weapons from Syria, and gold ended weaker as investors remained skittish ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy setting meeting. On the agricultural side, soybeans posted their biggest drop in nearly two weeks after forecasts for more rain eased concerns about declining harvest prospects for U.S. plantings. Still, a weaker dollar limited the decline in commodities priced in the U.S. currency. The greenback hit a four-week low after ex-U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers withdrew his name as a candidate to lead the Federal Reserve. The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global indicator for commodity prices, closed down half a percentage point, extending Friday's 0.4 percent drop. Crude oil, gasoline, heating oil and soybeans posted declines of about 2 percent each, dragging down the 19-commodity index. On the contrary, natural gas prices gained nearly 2 percent on brighter prospects of lower production and inventories. Benchmark Brent crude out of Europe's North Sea for November settled down $1.63 at $110.07 a barrel. It fell during the session to $108.73, its weakest level since Aug. 12. The United States reached a deal at the weekend with Russia that could avert U.S. strikes on Syria as punishment for last month's attack. Even so, Washington joined France and Britain in warning President Bashar al-Assad on Monday that there would be consequences if he fails to stick to a deal under which Syria must give up its chemical weapons. In gold, the spot price of bullion was down 1.4 percent at $1,306.86 an ounce by 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT). Gold fell as the market absorbed Summer's withdrawal from the race for the Fed leadership and braced for the central bank's two-day policy meeting beginning Tuesday that could decide on the next move for the U.S. stimulus.
Prices at 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 106.16 -2.05 -1.9% 15.6% Brent crude 109.61 -2.09 -1.9% -1.4% Natural gas 3.738 0.061 1.7% 11.5% US gold 1317.80 9.20 0.7% -21.4% Gold 1307.50 -18.76 -1.4% -21.9% US Copper 3.22 0.02 0.6% -11.8% LME Copper 7085.00 44.00 0.6% -10.7% Dollar 81.264 -0.188 -0.2% 5.9% CRB 289.462 -1.558 -0.5% -1.9% US corn 456.50 -2.50 -0.5% -34.6% US soybeans 1348.25 -33.25 -2.4% -5.0% US wheat 641.25 -0.25 0.0% -17.6% US Coffee 114.80 -0.75 -0.6% -20.2% US Cocoa 2576.00 0.00 0.0% 15.2% US Sugar 16.94 -0.15 -0.9% -13.2% US silver 21.963 21.746 1.6% -27.3% US platinum 1441.20 -3.30 0.0% -6.3% US palladium 704.30 6.80 1.0% 0.1%