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COMMODITIES-U.S. crude lowest in nearly 4 months; copper, gold down too

Barani Krishnan
Wednesday, 23 Oct 2013 | 3:51 PM ET

NEW YORK, Oct 23 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil fell to its lowest in nearly four months on Wednesday, tumbling for a third straight session on pressure from surging stockpiles, while most other commodities ended lower after a weaker demand outlook and firm dollar. Copper slid more than 2 percent as fears of tighter monetary policy in top metals user China outweighed speculation that tepid U.S. jobs data will deter the Federal Reserve from tapering its stimulus this year. Gold fell on selling by investors who took profit from a rally in the previous session sparked by weak September U.S. jobs data that encouraged bullion buying as a hedge. The slump in oil and the firmer dollar also weighed on gold. The dollar, yen and Swiss franc all rose after a spike in China's short-term money-market interest rates drove risk aversion, and upped bids for the three safe-haven currencies. In crop markets, arabica coffee hit a 4-1/2-year low in New York as abundant global supplies attracted follow-through selling and deterred buyers. Robusta coffee closed up in London after a three-year low hit earlier in the day. Wheat was one of the few commodities that posted gains, surging to near 4-month highs on concerns about the fate of crops in several key regions, including the Black Sea, Australia and Argentina. The Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB index fell 1 percent, its sharpest decline since September 20. Eleven of the CRB's 19 commodities settled in the negative. Copper led losses with a 2 percent decline. Oil, cocoa, nickel, gasoline and heating oil fell more than 1 percent each. U.S. crude has dropped more than 5 percent in five sessions, reaching below $97 a barrel for the first time since July. For Wednesday, it settled down $1.44, or 1.5 percent, at $96.86 a barrel, having hit its lowest level since July 1.

Benchmark Brent crude out of Europe's North Sea closed down $2.17, or 2 percent, at $107.80 a barrel. Data showed total U.S. oil inventories had risen more than 5 million barrels in the week to Oct. 18, near double market estimates. Refinery run rates have, meanwhile, dropped by some 6.6 percent in the last six weeks due to seasonal maintenance, curbing crude demand for the moment. "You've seen a refinery rate drop of more than 6 percent which suggests when we don't run our refineries all out we have to put oil back in storage," said Gene McGillian, analyst with Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Prices at 3:28 p.m. EDT (1928 GMT)

LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 96.80 -1.50 -1.5% 5.4% Brent crude 107.41 -2.56 -2.3% -3.3% Natural gas 3.619 0.038 1.1% 8.0% US gold 1334.00 -8.60 -0.6% -20.4% Gold 1332.90 -7.14 -0.5% -20.4% US Copper 3.27 -0.06 -1.9% -10.6% LME Copper 7171.00 -161.00 -2.2% -9.6% Dollar 79.261 0.031 0.0% 3.2% CRB 281.742 -2.979 -1.1% -4.5% US corn 442.75 4.50 1.0% -36.6% US soybeans 1310.00 7.75 0.6% -7.7% US wheat 701.75 1.00 0.1% -9.8% US Coffee 110.55 -1.40 -1.3% -23.1% US Cocoa 2714.00 -55.00 -2.0% 21.4% US Sugar 19.28 -0.17 -0.9% -1.2% US silver 22.582 22.354 1.7% -25.3% US platinum 1436.70 -11.10 0.0% -6.6% US palladium 745.10 -6.80 -0.9% 5.9%