COMMODITIES-Gold, gas jump as many other commodities start year down

institutional investors at the start of the new year and some
Thursday, 2 Jan 2014 | 3:50 PM ET

NEW YORK, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Gold and silver prices surged on Thursday, helping precious metal to a strong start in 2014 after last year's woeful showing, and natural gas retained its strong run to lead gains across commodities. Lean hog prices also surged after last year's flat finish that capped a five-year rally. Outside of that, commodities were mostly down, in line with the lower stock market as investors pared their risk in equities after the best annual gains in 16 years. U.S. Treasuries prices rose, reversing an earlier fall that had driven yields to more than two-year highs, as investor money moved out of stocks. "As investors take profits from the equity market after its break-neck pace of growth last year, gold will continue its upward momentum," said Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer of the New Jersey-based Sica Wealth Management, which has over $1 billion in client assets. The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB index, which tracks 19 commodities, slid nearly 1 percent, extending Tuesday's loss of 0.8 percent. It fell 5 percent through 2013, ending down for a third straight year for its longest losing stretch since 1995. On Thursday, the spot price of gold rose almost 2 percent to above $1,230 an ounce, its sharpest one-day gain since Oct. 22. Gold sank nearly 30 percent in 2013, for its largest loss in three decades that also ended a 12-year bull run, after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced plans to unwind its monetary stimulus. The Fed's stimulus drove bullion prices to record highs above $1,900 an ounce in 2011. As gold tumbled last year, U.S. stocks rallied, with the S&P 500 rising almost 30 percent for its best yearly advance since 1997. Thursday's rebound in gold came from new positions initiated bargain hunting after bullion's drop to a six-month low on Tuesday, traders said. The precious metals complex also gained broadly as platinum and palladium rose by about 2 percent each, and silver rallied about 4 percent. Natural gas jumped after short-term forecasts showed extremely cold temperatures and a snow storm between the U.S. Northeast and Midwest. Natural gas was the best-performing commodity in 2013, rising 27 percent amid new signs of chilly winter weather and stronger-than-usual seasonal demand. In the latest session, the front-month U.S. gas futures contract rose 2 percent to settle New York trading at $4.321 per million British thermal units. In lean hogs, the front-month futures contract was up 1.8 percent at 87 cents per pound in Chicago trading, boosted by fund buying and higher cash prices in the physical market. Prices at 3:02 p.m. EST (2002 GMT)

LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 95.48 -2.94 -3.0% 4.0% Brent crude 107.80 -3.00 -2.7% -3.0% Natural gas 4.321 0.091 2.2% 28.9% US gold 1225.20 22.90 1.9% -26.9% Gold 1224.46 19.17 1.6% -26.9% US Copper 3.38 -0.02 -0.4% -7.4% LME Copper 7393.00 33.00 0.4% -6.8% Dollar 80.625 0.588 0.7% 5.0% CRB 277.408 -2.765 -1.0% -6.0% US corn 420.50 -1.50 -0.4% -39.8% US soybeans 1287.00 -25.50 -1.9% -9.3% US wheat 597.00 -8.25 -1.4% -23.3% US Coffee 111.40 0.70 0.6% -22.5% US Cocoa 2636.00 -73.00 -2.7% 17.9% US Sugar 16.29 -0.12 -0.7% -16.5% US silver 20.128 19.934 1.7% -33.4% US platinum 1401.90 30.80 0.0% -8.9% US palladium 730.25 11.95 1.7% 3.8%

(Editing by Andre Grenon)