COMMODITIES-Rally in natgas ends on profit-taking, copper and gold up

Barani Krishnan
Friday, 13 Dec 2013 | 4:38 PM ET

NEW YORK, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Natural gas fell on Friday for the first time in five days with investors taking profits on a rally driven by frigid weather in the United States. U.S. crude oil slipped too, pushing the commodities complex lower. Gasoline, sugar and corn also posted losses, after concerns about higher inventories and lower demand. Not all major commodities ended lower though. Copper touched a six-week peak in a sixth straight session of gains in London as nervous investors bought back short positions before a meeting of the Federal Reserve that could decide the fate of U.S. monetary stimulus policy. Gold rose nearly 1 percent in New York after a sharp plunge in the previous session. Traders, however, said the precious metal remained vulnerable to downside pressure as investors parsed U.S. economic headlines ahead of the Fed meeting. Robusta coffee hit near 4-month highs in London as falling stockpiles and slow shipments from top grower Vietnam reinforced concerns about supplies. The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB index , however, settled down 0.2 percent, weighed down by the losses in natural gas and its biggest component, U.S. crude. The front-month contract for U.S. natural gas slid 5.8 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $4.351 per million British thermal units in New York. But on the week, the market rose nearly 6 percent after gains in four earlier sessions. The weekly gain, the biggest in two months, pushed prices to their highest level since May and near the highest in more than two years. "It has been a pretty volatile week and there is probably a little bit of profit taking going on here, especially since they weren't able to push it through the high of the year," said Addison Armstrong, senior director of market research at Tradition Energy. "But obviously everybody knows it's cold and everybody knows we're going to have a record or near-record storage report next week," Armstrong added. U.S. crude futures settled down 90 cents, or nearly 1 percent, at $96.60 a barrel, on expectations that the Fed could announce a pullback in the U.S. stimulus as early as next week. Benchmark Brent crude out of London finished up 16 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $108.83.

(Editing by Grant McCool)