October 15, 2012 / 5:46 PM / 5 years ago

COMMODITIES-Big S. America crop hits soy; gold at 1-mth low

* Soybeans set 3-1/2 mth low as U.S. yields improve
    * Gold, copper hit one-month bottom
    * Raw sugar near 3-week low
    * Oil up slightly, recovering from early lows

    By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Oct 15 (Reuters) - A greater supply versus demand
scenario led to losses across the commodity markets on Monday,
with soybean prices hitting a 3-1/2-month low as investors sold
off ahead of a looming bumper crop in South America and on
improving U.S. harvest yields.
    Copper hit a one-month low on concerns about poor offtake
for the metal in China -- the world's largest market for base
metals -- and uncertainties about what Beijing can do to
reenergize its economy.
    Gold also fell to a month-low after better-than-expected
U.S. economic data led to worries that the Federal Reserve may
scale back economic stimulus measures that have been supportive
to bullion.
    Raw sugar hovered near a three-week low in New York. 
    Oil prices also fell initially, falling by up to 2 percent
before recovering to settle slightly higher.
     The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a
commodities bellwether, finished down 0.7 percent. Fifteen of
the CRB's 19 components ended lower, with natural gas leading
declines with a 4 percent drop as investors took profits on gas
prices which hit 2012 highs last week. 
    U.S. soybean futures were lowest since early July as a
potential bumper crop loomed in South America. The front-month
contract for soybeans on the Chicago Board of Trade settled at 
$14.92-1/2 a bushel, down nearly 2 percent and breaking below
the $15 support level. 
    Soybeans are down 17 percent from the record high of
$17.94-3/4 that was set on Sept. 4 on fund buying as a U.S. 
drought fueled fears of a shortfall of soybean supplies. 
    "Funds were big buyers on the way up and they're sellers
now, I don't see any support until we get down to $14.75, the
bottom of the gap...basis November," said Sterling Smith,
futures specialist for Citigroup. 
    Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange fell
0.4 percent to close at $8,094.50 a tonne in the second session
of losses after touching a low of $8,050, the weakest since
Sept. 13. 
    The spot price of gold traded at below $1,738 an
ounce by 3:50 EDT (1950 GMT), down about 1 percent, after
touching a one-month low at under $1,729. 
    Data released on Monday showed U.S. retail sales rose in
September as Americans bought more of everything, from cars to
gasoline and electronics, pointing to stronger-than-expected
economic growth in the third quarter. 
    The report followed news on Friday that U.S. consumer
sentiment unexpectedly hit a five-year high, while weekly U.S.
jobless claims the previous day showed a surprise drop.  
    That has called into question the possible extent of the
Fed's latest bond-buying program, which has been explicitly tied
to economic needs. It may be curtailed sooner than expected if
data is positive enough. 
    U.S. crude oil ended virtually flat at $91.85 a
barrel, after falling more than 2 percent at one point to below
$90. London's Benchmark Brent crude closed up 1 percent
at $115.80. 
    Oil was weakened earlier by data showing exports to the
European Union down for a fourth straight month.
    Crude demand in China, the world's second largest economy,
remained relatively weak, underlining a worsening outlook for
global fuel consumption.
 Prices at 3:52 p.m. EDT (1952 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT     YTD
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG     CHG
 US crude                    91.70    -0.16  -0.2%   -7.2%
 Brent crude                115.70     1.08   0.9%    7.7%
 Natural gas                 3.486   -0.125  -3.5%   16.6%
 US gold                   1737.60   -22.10  -1.3%   10.9%
 Gold                      1736.64   -17.11  -1.0%   11.1%
 US Copper                  370.15    -0.15   0.0%    7.7%
 LME Copper                8094.50   -35.50  -0.4%    6.5%
 Dollar                     79.714    0.047   0.1%   -0.6%
 US corn                    737.25   -15.50  -2.1%   14.0%
 US soybeans               1491.75   -30.25  -2.0%   24.5%
 US wheat                   860.50    -8.75  -1.0%   31.8%
 US Coffee                  160.85    -0.85  -0.5%  -29.5%
 US Cocoa                  2354.00   -12.00  -0.5%   11.6%
 US Sugar                    19.85    -0.20  -1.0%  -14.6%
 US silver                  32.743   -0.926  -2.8%   17.3%
 US platinum               1635.30   -24.00  -1.4%   16.4%
 US palladium               632.60    -6.45  -1.0%   -3.6%
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