* Corn prices higher on technical buying
* U.S. east coast oil demand hit hard by Sandy
* Gold higher on Wednesday, lower on month
NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Most commodities eked out small gains on Wednesday as markets started to recover from mammoth storm Sandy, but the sector ended the month weaker, with its biggest decline in five months. Markets overall were still picking up after Sandy battered the U.S. East Coast on Monday. The New York Stock Exchange and Chicago Mercantile Exchange resumed normal trading hours on Wednesday. The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a bellwether for commodities, rose 0.3 percent on the day, but lost 4.3 percent for the month of October, the worst performance since May, when the CRB tumbled by nearly 11 percent.
Energy infrastructure in the U.S. Northeast was hard hit by the storm, and with that, gasoline futures hit their highest level in more than two weeks on supply shortage concerns. U.S. crude oil gained minimally on the day, while Brent crude oil lost on concerns about global economic growth. NYMEX December crude oil rose 56 cents to close at $86.24 a barrel. But Brent crude lost 38 cents, or 0.35 percent, to settle at $108.70 a barrel. Commodities rallied during much of the third quarter, buoyed has returned to sluggish global growth and largely weak demand for commodities. Sandy has not helped in that view. ``The demand destruction may be the biggest since right after the attacks of September 11,'' said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, of East Coast oil demand, the region which consumes about a quarter of the nation's total. The fourth quarter is likely to see markets hit by more uncertainty ahead of a potential U.S. ``fiscal cliff'' of government spending cuts that could send the world's largest economy into a recession and as new leadership takes over in top raw materials consumer China. ``It's unlikely that you're going to get much more central bank action before the end of this year. And while there's some expectation in the markets of policy announcements out of China materialize,'' said Wiktor Bielski, global head of commodities research at VTB Capital in London. In agriculture markets, U.S. corn prices rose to a one-week high on Wednesday on a mix of technical buying and expected U.S. export demand. Gold rose nearly 1 percent to a week-long high, but ended lower for the month, snapping four straight monthly gains. ``It looks like speculators are dipping their toes in again, but probably only to do a bit of window dressing ahead of month end,'' said Saxo Bank vice president Ole Hansen. ``Do not expect any major fireworks unless we close above 1730 or until after non-farm payrolls on Friday.''
Prices at 4:36 p.m. EST (2058 GMT)