* Crude oil jumps on gasoline draw
* Copper up 2.5 pct; corn, wheat rise too
By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK, Feb 25 Signs of a recovery in U.S. energy
demand boosted crude oil prices by 6 percent on Wednesday, helping
copper and grains markets to a higher close as well.
Gold continued its losing streak, closing down for a third
straight session as investors backed away from the so-called "safe
haven" after rediscovering an appetite for oil and other riskier
commodities. The dollar's persistent strength [USD/] also weighed on
the precious metal.
The Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB of 19 futures markets
settled up 2.2 percent.
In crude oil CLc1 , the benchmark contract on the New York
Mercantile Exchange, or NYMEX, settled up $2.53 at a near one-month
high of $42.50 a barrel after a U.S. government report showed lower
gasoline inventories in the world's top energy consumer. [O/R]
"The big draw is in gasoline. Demand is up and refinery runs are
lower than expected. Demand is coming back," said Tom Bentz, analyst
at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures in New York.
Analysts said low gasoline prices seemed to be luring U.S.
motorists back to the roads, as U.S. gasoline inventories indicated
a drop of 3.4 million barrels last week. [ID:nN12445605]
NYMEX crude had hit record highs above $147 a barrel in July
before the global economic downturn sent the market hurtling to as
low as $32 a barrel in December and January. Production cuts in
recent months by oil cartel OPEC have kept prices from sliding
In U.S. copper futures, the benchmark contract for March
delivery HGH9 ended up 3.75 cents, or 2.5 percent, at $1.5245 a lb
on the COMEX metals division of NYMEX. [COP/X]
Copper for delivery in three months MCU3 on the London Metal
Exchange (LME) ended up $130 at $3,415 a tonne. [MET/L]
Prices of the industrial metal have tumbled since July's record
highs above $4 a lb on COMEX and nearly $9,000 a tonne on the LME.
But since Friday, copper has been on the rebound on technical
buying and short-covering. This trend accelerated after Federal
Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday that U.S. banks were
not about to be nationalized.
"The fact that the U.S. isn't going to nationalize the banking
system has alleviated some of the fear. That boosted the stock
markets, and that has lent a little extra support to metals," said
Leon Westgate at London's Standard Bank.
In gold, COMEX's benchmark contract for April GCJ9 settled
down $3.30 at $966.20 an ounce. [GOL/X] [GOL/]
On the agricultural front, wheat and corn prices also turned
higher on short-covering and bargain buying, although gains were
limited by concerns over a shrinking global economy and waning
demand for grains and soy. [GRA/]
U.S. corn for delivery in March CH9 settled up 9-1/2 cents at
$3.63-3/4 a lb on the Chicago Board of Trade. March wheat WH9 also
ended up 9-1/2 cents at $5.24-3/4 per bushel.
(Editing by David Gregorio)