* Some commodities back in bear region as oil, copper fall * Brent crude settled below $98 a barrel * London copper edges near $7,000 a tonne support * Cotton, natgas rally; wheat, soybeans up more modestly By Barani Krishnan NEW YORK, April 17 Oil and copper prices hit multimonth lows on Wednesday, pulling part of the commodities complex back into bearish territory even as some markets gained ground after one of the worst two-day routs in the sector. Oil prices fell further. Brent crude in London plumbed a nine-month bottom below $98 a barrel and U.S. crude in New York matched Tuesday's four-month low near $86. In copper, London's key three-month contract headed toward the $7,000 a tonne support after touching near an 18-month low. Gold rose in choppy trading after a two-year low reached in the previous session triggered Asian physical buying. Yet, the market struggled to hold onto gains due to a weak outlook. "Investors are still very wary about economic slowdown and deflation," said Frank McGhee, head precious metals trader at Integrated Brokerage Services in New York. Part of the pressure on gold came from the strength in the dollar, which on Wednesday made its biggest advance against the euro in nearly a year. The euro was weakened by talk of a rate cut by the European Central Bank. Signs of economic malaise in Britain and Canada added to the dollar's appeal. The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities indicator that tracks 19 mostly U.S.-traded markets, fell 0.8 percent. It was largely weighed down by a drop of nearly 4 percent in U.S. copper futures and a decline of more than 2 percent in New York-traded crude, its main component. On the positive side, the CRB was supported by a rise of more than 1 percent in U.S. cotton and natural gas . Wheat and soybeans also helped the index, with more modest gains. OIL DOWN SIXTH DAY, COPPER AT 2O11 LOWS Oil prices tumbled for a sixth straight day after a rise in U.S. distillate inventories last week offset lower crude stockpiles noted by the government-run Energy Information Administration. "There was nothing in this report that was really bullish," Phil Flynn, analyst at the Chicago-based Price Futures Group, said, referring to the EIA report. "So, now the market is deferring to what we're seeing in the outside markets such as the dollar and the stock market, which has been under pressure." Brent crude settled down $2.22 at $97.69, after sinking earlier to $97.26, the lowest since July 2012. Brent has fallen in 10 of the last 12 sessions, losing nearly 12 percent in its biggest 12-day loss since June 2012. The rout in commodities was triggered by data released Monday showing growth in China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, slowing unexpectedly in the first three months of 2013. U.S. crude settled down $2.04 at $86.68 a barrel. U.S. crude hit the same low of $86.06 in the last two days of trading. Copper fell more than 3 percent after the International Monetary Fund downgraded its global economic growth projections for this year and next, increasing worries about the prospects for metals demand. In addition, European car sales, a major source of copper demand, fell 10.3 percent in March as an economic contraction spread to the region's more prosperous north. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange closed down 2.8 percent at $7,080 a tonne. Its session low was $7,039, its lowest since Oct. 2011. Copper, used in power and construction, has lost more than 8 percent this year. Prices at 4:31 p.m. EDT (2031 GMT) LAST/ NET PCT YTD CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US crude 86.55 -2.04 -2.3% -5.7% Brent crude 97.55 -2.36 -2.4% -12.2% Natural gas 4.214 0.054 1.3% 25.8% US gold 1382.20 -4.60 -0.3% -17.5% Gold 1374.80 6.87 0.5% -17.9% US Copper 320.25 -12.10 -3.6% -12.3% LME Copper 7080.00 -220.00 -3.0% -10.7% Dollar 82.646 0.897 1.1% 7.7% US corn 660.50 -2.75 -0.4% -5.4% US soybeans 1422.25 10.75 0.8% 0.2% US wheat 703.75 0.25 0.0% -9.5% US Coffee 136.10 0.25 0.2% -5.4% US Cocoa 2299.00 5.00 0.2% 2.8% US Sugar 17.85 -0.16 -0.9% -8.5% US silver 23.307 -0.321 -1.4% -22.9% US platinum 1434.80 -15.20 -1.0% -6.8% US palladium 661.40 -16.80 -2.5% -6.0%
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