COMMODITIES-Arabica coffee, lean hogs lead February gains

(Reuters is considering dropping the daily commodities wrap after March 10 and publishing the report on a discretionary basis. Please send any comments on this move to Josephine Mason at josephine.masonzthomsonreuters.com) NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Wheat prices rose about 3 percent to lead gains in U.S. commodities on Friday as the dollar fell but the biggest monthly gains for February were posted by arabica coffee, which rallied 40 percent on fears of crop damage from Brazil's drought. Lean hogs, one of the smaller U.S. commodity markets, also chalked up big monthly gains, rising almost 25 percent on concerns of tighter supply. Weather worries and dwindling inventories have dominated commodities markets this month, turning investors' attention to the space as raw materials markets decoupled from equities. Natural gas prices hit five-year peaks on extreme cold temperatures; sugar jumped 12 percent on Brazil's crop-wilting heat; and cattle raced to record highs on expectations of transportation problems for livestock from snow-covered roads. The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity Index, a global indicator of basic resource prices, was up 7 percent for February, its biggest monthly gain since Oct. 2011. Citigroup said in a recent research note that about $1.6 billion has entered the sector so far this saw versus record outflows of about $50 billion in 2013. "The risk-on play in commodities is more alive than ever," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of New York-based financial advisory and boutique investment firm Sarhan Capital. "There's been a tremendous amount of risk appetite that's returned to the space, a welcome sign after last year's lackluster performance." The dollar drop's to a two-month low against the euro made commodity traders more bullish on Friday as it made dollar-denominated commodities more affordable to global buyers. Front-month wheat in Chicago finished just under $6 a bushel, up 3 percent on the day and nearly 8 percent on the month. Arabica coffee neared a 17-month peak, marking its biggest monthly gain in nearly two decades as speculators continued to bet on crop damage despite intermittent rain in Brazil. "If the weather continues to improve, the best you can hope for is that production may stabilize" in coffee, said Jack Scoville, vice president at Price Futures Group in Chicago. New York-traded arabica's most-active second month contract ended at $1.8030 per lb, up 41.7 percent for February in the biggest monthly surge since June 1994. Year-to-date, arabica coffee is up almost 60 percent. Lean hogs hit an all-time high of $1.08650 a lb, up 3 percent for the session and 24 percent for the month, a day after Russia said it would resume American pork imports. Live cattle prices eked out a new high too after another round of winter weather forecast for the Midwest at the weekend raised transportation concerns for livestock. The front-month live cattle contract in Chicago settled at $1.51950 a lb, up 2 percent on the day and 7 percent on the month after hitting a record high at $1.53. Prices at 2:50 p.m. EST (1950 GMT)

LAST/ NET PCT CLOSE CHG CHG US crude 102.52 0.12 0.1% Brent crude 108.95 -0.01 0.0% Natural gas 4.609 0.098 2.2% US gold 1328.20 0.00 0.0% Gold 1323.05 -8.01 -0.6% US Copper 3.24 0.00 0.1% LME Copper 7010.00 -15.00 -0.2% Dollar 79.743 -0.542 -0.7% CRB 302.426 0.836 0.3% US corn 457.50 9.50 2.1% US soybeans 1414.25 20.75 1.5% US wheat 599.00 16.75 2.9% US Coffee 179.80 1.05 0.6% US Cocoa 2935.00 2.00 0.1% US Sugar 16.47 -0.97 -5.6% US silver 21.204 20.991 1.6% US platinum 1446.80 -6.60 0.0% US palladium 743.85 1.60 0.2%

(Editing by David Gregorio)