COMMODITIES-US natural gas slides as weather warms; oil, gold drop

Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:17pm GMT

* Brent crude oil falls more than $1/barrel
    * Gold turns negative after touching 2-month high
    * Copper at 7-week low

    By Marcy Nicholson
    NEW YORK, Jan 27 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures
slumped 6.5 percent on Monday, as a thaw after last week's deep
freeze reduced heating demand across much of the country, while
oil slid as investors shed risky assets and gold fell 1 percent
on profit taking after the precious metal hit a one-month high
during the session. 
    Copper futures hit their lowest in seven weeks on worries
about an economic slowdown in top consumer China, while U.S.
government export data helped lift soybean prices.
    The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity Index, a
benchmark for global commodities made up of 19 components,
closed down 1 percent, or 2.8245, at 279.7108.
    On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the front-month
February natural gas futures contract, which will expire
on Wednesday, closed down 33.5 cents, or 6.5 percent, at $4.847
per million British thermal units. It was the first drop in five
sessions, as investors grabbed profits after last week's rally
on brutally cold weather across much of the United States. 
    Brent crude oil futures dropped more than $1 a barrel as
investors kept dumping risky assets due to concern about weaker
growth in emerging markets. Brent crude futures settled
down $1.19, or 1.10 percent, at $106.69 per barrel, while U.S.
crude oil futures dropped 92 cents to close at $95.72.
 
    In precious metals, gold retreated from a two-month high
earlier in the session, pressured by expectations that the U.S>
Federal Reserve could further cut monetary stimulus from the $10
billion-a-month reduction to its bond purchases decided in
December.
    The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to begin its
two-day policy meeting on Tuesday.
    Spot gold was down 1.07 percent at $1,255.10 an ounce
by 3:54 p.m. EST (2054 GMT), after tapping a two-month high at
$1,278.01. 
    Copper futures fell to a seven-week low on a combination of
worries about China's economic slowdown and its shadow banking
sector as well as concerns about the Fed decision. Daily London
Metal Exchange (LME) data showing copper stocks continued to
dwindle, however, prevented deeper losses.
    Three-month copper on the LME ended at $7,150 a
tonne, its lowest since Dec. 11, a drop of 0.4 percent from
Friday's close. 
    In agricultural commodities, U.S. soybean futures rose
following government data that showed larger-than-expected
export shipments, while the small cocoa futures market 
surged to a 2-1/2-year high on heavy chart-based buying and
supply concerns.  

 (Editing by David Gregorio)