COMMODITIES-Gold up as stockmarkets fall on Fed; natgas at 4-yr high
NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - U.S. gold futures closed up more than 1 percent on Wednesday as stock markets fell amid another cut in the Federal Reserve's stimulus, and natural gas prices jumped 10 percent to a four-year high on forecasts for colder weather in the next fortnight. Arabica coffee futures rose more than 2 percent in New York for their highest gain in three weeks on short-covering from a technically oversold position. New York-traded cotton rose nearly 1.5 percent, its most in a week, extending Tuesday's gains driven by technical buying and bargain-hunting. The gains lifted the Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity Index , a commodities bellwether made up of 19 components, up 0.8 percent to 284.3790. Gold rose in choppy trade as global equity markets reacted to a fresh cut in the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying stimulus. U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled up $11.40 at $1,262.20 an ounce. The Fed announced a further $10 billion reduction in its monthly bond purchases as it stuck to a plan to wind down the extraordinary stimulus despite recent turmoil in emerging markets. U.S. stocks were down as much as 1 percent, as the Fed news added to earlier worries over an emerging market selloff. Front-month natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed up 52.4 cents, or 10.4 percent, at $5.557 per million British thermal units. It was the highest price achieved by a front-month contract in U.S. gas since Jan. 25, 2010. U.S. natural gas inventories are expected to sink to the lowest level since 2008 as cold winter weather forced utilities to pull a record amount of gas from storage to meet the surge in heating demand, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.
"We've broken all sorts of records so far this winter. We've seen the largest weekly withdrawals in December and January, the largest monthly withdrawal in December, and we're looking at a possible record seasonal withdrawal," said Teri Viswanath, analyst at BNP Paribas in New York. Not all commodities ended the session higher though. U.S. crude oil futures closed a shade lower, after government data showed a hefty build in crude inventories, although losses were curtailed by a larger-than-expected draw in distillates due to severely cold weather. Chicago-traded soybeans fell more than 1 percent, closing down for a second day in a row, under pressure from expectations that a bumper South American crop will raise global supplies. Large U.S. stockpiles also pressured wheat, sending prices down nearly 3 percent to contract lows. In London's metals markets, aluminium fell 0.6 percent to hit a 4-1/2 year low and copper closed slightly lower ahead of a week-long festive break in China, the world's largest buyer of base metals. Prices at 3:22 p.m. EST (2022 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT CLOSE CHG CHG US crude 97.16 -0.25 -0.3% Brent crude 107.66 0.25 0.2% Natural gas 5.557 0.524 10.4% US gold 1262.20 11.40 0.9% Gold 1265.71 9.50 0.8% US Copper 3.24 -0.01 -0.4% LME Copper 7127.00 -13.00 -0.2% Dollar 80.549 -0.019 0.0% CRB 284.379 2.199 0.8% US corn 427.50 -4.50 -1.0% US soybeans 1269.25 -16.25 -1.3% US wheat 551.50 -14.50 -2.6% US Coffee 117.10 2.45 2.1% US Cocoa 2918.00 13.00 0.4% US Sugar 14.74 -0.28 -1.9% US silver 19.552 19.357 1.5% US platinum 1406.40 -1.30 0.0% US palladium 711.15 -5.35 -0.7%
(Editing by Marguerita Choy)