Oil traded near the highest level in nine months on speculation that Iran will disrupt supplies, countering concern that global demand will falter.
Oil for April delivery was at $106.36 a barrel, up 11 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchangeat 3:42 p.m. Singapore time. It earlier slid as much as 54 cents. Front-month prices advanced 2.5 percent yesterday to the highest close since May 4. U.S. floor trading was shut on Feb. 20 because of the Presidents’ Day holiday and trades were booked with yesterday’s transactions. Prices are 13 percent higher in the past year.
Natural gas futures fell for the first time in three days in New York as forecasts for milder-than-normal weather in the Eastern U.S. into early March signaled reduced demand for the furnace fuel.
Japan naphtha swaps for March climbed $12.25, or 1.2 percent, to $1,049.25 a metric ton at 10:29 a.m. Singapore time, the highest since May, according to data from PVM Oil Associates Ltd., a broker.
The benchmark naphtha’s premium to London-traded Brent crude futures rose to $136.28 a ton from $120.41 yesterday. The crack spread, a measure of refining profitability from the fuel, was at the widest since Jan. 31.
Singapore fuel oil’s discount to Dubai crude, a measure of refining losses from the fuel in Asia, widened 25 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $5.98 a barrel, PVM data showed. That’s the biggest discount since Dec. 12. High-sulfur fuel oil swaps for March rose $8, or 1.1 percent, to $730.50 a ton.
Gold declined as concerns that a second bailout for Greecemay not be enough to end the European debt crisis weakened the euro against the dollar, curbing demand for the metal as a haven. Platinum climbed to a five-month high.
Spot gold dropped 0.2 percent to $1,755.50 an ounce at 2:18 p.m. in Singapore after advancing 1.4 percent yesterday, the most since Feb. 7. Bullion for April delivery was little changed at $1,757 an ounce on the Comex in New York. Platinum gained as much as 1.2 percent to $1,706.75 an ounce, the highest price since Sept. 22, before trading at $1,699.
Copper declined for the first time in three days as the threat of a default in Europe remained even after a second bailout for Greece was approved and data showed manufacturing inChina may contract.
Three-month copper fell as much as 0.4 percent to $8,413 a metric ton after rising 0.3 percent earlier. The contract traded little changed at $8,450 by 11:38 a.m. Shanghai time, after climbing 3.4 percent in the past two days. May-delivery copper on the Comex lost 0.3 percent to $3.8345 a pound.
GRAINS, SOFT COMMODITIES
Soybeans fell after rallying to the highest level in almost five months yesterday on speculation that forecasts for rains inArgentina will boost drought-damaged crops and as investors locked in gains. Wheat declined.
The May-delivery contract dropped as much as 0.4 percent to $12.72 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade and was at $12.7575 at 1:53 p.m. in Singapore. Futures reached $12.8225 yesterday, the highest price for a most-active contract since Sept. 23.
Corn for May delivery gained 0.2 percent to $6.345 per bushel, while wheat for delivery in the same month fell 0.2 percent to $6.3575 per bushel.
Rubber extended gains for a fourth day and reached the highest level in five months amid declining supply in Thailandand after Europe agreed on a second bailout for Greece.
The July-delivery contract advanced 2.8 percent to settle at 337.6 yen a kilogram ($4,220 a metric ton), the highest settlement level since Sept. 22, on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange. Futures have gained 28 percent this year. May-delivery rubber on the Shanghai Futures Exchange climbed 0.7 percent to close at 29,100 yuan ($4,622) a ton.
Palm oil advanced for a fourth day to the highest level in more than eight months after soybeans climbed yesterday on concerns that dry weather in South America damaged crops, reducing global vegetable oil supplies.
The May-delivery contract climbed as much as 0.5 percent to 3,285 ringgit ($1,086) a metric ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange, the highest level since June 15, and ended the morning session at 3,281 ringgit in Kuala Lumpur.
Hog futures for April settlement fell 0.6 percent to settle at 89.825 cents a pound yesterday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The commodity has gained 6.6 percent this year.
Cattle futures for April delivery rose 0.2 percent to close at $1.31125 a pound in Chicago. On Feb. 17, the price reached $1.31275, the highest for a most-active contract since the commodity started trading on the CME in 1964.
Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement gained 0.1 percent to $1.586 a pound. The commodity rose to a record $1.5905 on Feb. 17.
Cotton for May delivery rose 0.3 percent to settle at 92.97 cents a pound yesterday. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The most-active contract, up 2.9 percent since Feb. 9, has dropped 52 percent in the past 12 months.
Orange-juice futures for May delivery fell 0.3 percent to $1.8045 a pound in New York. Earlier, the price touched $1.765, the lowest since Jan. 5.
Cocoa for May delivery rose 3.4 percent to close at $2,424 a metric ton yesterday on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The price reached $2,447, the highest for a most-active contract since Jan. 27. The exchange was closed yesterday for the Presidents Day holiday.
Arabica-coffee futures for May delivery added 1.8 percent to $2.0605 a pound in New York, the biggest gain for a most- active contract since Jan. 11.