Bloomberg News

Natural Gas Futures Drop to 10-Year Low: Commodities at Close

April 17, 2012

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities rose 0.5 percent to 678.77 at 4:35 p.m. New York time. The UBS Bloomberg CMCI index of 26 raw materials gained 0.3 percent to 1,566.764.

NATURAL GAS

Natural gas futures dropped to a 10-year low in New York on forecasts for above-normal temperatures that may reduce demand for the heating fuel.

Gas slid 3.2 percent as warmer-than-normal weather is forecast for the eastern U.S. through April 21, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Marketed gas output will rise 4.5 percent this year to a record 69.22 billion cubic feet a day, Energy Department data show.

Natural gas for May delivery fell 6.5 cents to $1.951 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement price since Jan. 28, 2002. The futures have declined 35 percent this year, making gas the worst performer on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 commodities.

OIL PRODUCTS

Gasoline slid to a six-week low as Brent oil weakened versus the U.S. benchmark crude and on speculation that gasoline peaked before the April-to-September U.S. driving season.

Futures declined as the London benchmark’s premium to West Texas Intermediate oil sank to the lowest level since February on reduced concern that tension over Iran’s nuclear program will disrupt supplies. Gasoline has lost 5.3 percent since reaching a 2012 high of $3.4166 on March 26.

Gasoline for May delivery fell 3.3 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $3.234 a gallon on the Nymex, the lowest settlement since March 6. Gasoline’s premium to WTI, or crack spread, narrowed $2.66 to $31.63 a barrel, the smallest difference since March 6.

Heating oil for May delivery gained 1 cent to $3.1266 a gallon, its fourth gain in five sessions.

CRUDE OIL

Oil climbed to a two-week high in New York as Spain raised more than its maximum target at a debt auction and the International Monetary Fund bolstered its global growth forecast.

Futures gained 1.2 percent after Spain sold 3.18 billion euros of bills today, easing concern the European credit crisis will spread. The IMF raised its outlook for 2012 and 2013. The price difference between oil in New York and London narrowed after the reversal of the Seaway pipeline was moved up and talks on Iran’s nuclear program yielded an agreement to reconvene.

Crude oil for May delivery advanced $1.27 to $104.20 a barrel on the Nymex, the highest settlement since April 2.

Brent oil for June settlement rose 10 cents to end the session at $118.78 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark contract’s premium to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate for the same month narrowed to $14.14 based on settlement prices, the lowest level since Feb. 1.

GRAINS

Soybeans rose for the first time in three sessions on signs that U.S. exports will expand as output slumps in South America and demand increases for livestock feed in China. Corn and wheat declined.

Soybean futures for July delivery climbed 0.5 percent to close at $14.315 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, snapping a two-day drop of 1.4 percent. The most-active futures have risen 19 percent this year as hot, dry weather damaged South America crops.

Corn futures fell on speculation that livestock feeders will substitute cheaper wheat in livestock rations, Henderson said. Corn futures for July delivery slid 1 percent to $6.0725 a bushel on the CBOT, the third straight decline.

Wheat also declined for a third straight session on speculation that rain in parts of the U.S. Midwest and the southern Great Plains will improve crop prospects. Wheat futures for July delivery fell 0.2 percent to $6.2025 a bushel.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold futures advanced from a one-week low as the dollar declined, increasing demand for the metal as an alternative investment.

Gold futures for June delivery rose 0.1 percent to settle at $1,651.10 an ounce on the Comex in New York.

Silver futures for May delivery jumped 1 percent to $31.674 an ounce on the Comex. Prices have climbed 13 percent this year.

Platinum futures for July delivery rose 0.6 percent to $1,584.70 an ounce.

BASE METALS

Copper futures rose for the second straight day as signs of progress on Europe’s debt crisis, along with an International Monetary Fund projection for faster global economic growth, buoyed the outlook for metal demand.

Copper futures for July delivery climbed 0.5 percent to settle at $3.654 a pound on the Comex.

On the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months advanced 0.8 percent to $8,050 a metric ton ($3.65 a pound).

Aluminum, nickel and tin gained in London. Lead and zinc dropped.

SOFT COMMODITIES

Cotton prices rebounded from a 16-week low on speculation that demand may gain in India, the world’s second-biggest consumer. Orange juice also advanced. Orange juice also advanced.

Cotton for July delivery rose 1.1 percent to settle at 88.25 cents on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

Orange-juice futures for July delivery gained 0.5 percent to $1.4705 a pound.

Cocoa for July delivery advanced 2.5 percent to settle at $2,281 a ton on ICE Futures U.S. The commodity increased for the fifth straight session, the longest climb since late October.

Raw-sugar futures for July delivery gained 1.2 percent to 22.57 cents a pound on ICE.

Arabica-coffee futures for July delivery fell 0.7 percent to $1.747 a pound, the third straight decline.

LIVESTOCK

Cattle futures rose the most in three sessions on signs of improving demand for U.S. beef. Hog prices capped the longest rally in almost two months.

Cattle futures for June delivery advanced 0.4 percent to settle at $1.16575 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the biggest gain since April 12.

Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement increased 0.8 percent to $1.567 a pound on the CME, the fifth straight rise and longest rally since Feb. 21.

Hog futures for June settlement climbed 1.2 percent to 89.775 cents a pound in Chicago, the first gain in three sessions.

To contact the reporters on this story: Barbara J Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net


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