CRB Rallies in First Half: Big Gains in Coffee, Hogs

Posted by Eric Haun
Monday, June 30, 2014

Commodities fell on Monday as investors squared their books after a big 10 percent rise in the first half of the year on rallies in gold, oil and big gains in arabica coffee and lean hogs.

"Commodities were oversold coming into the year, and you had some technical buying that followed, but now we're seeing a mix, with weather-related fundamentals driving things up like coffee and political troubles keeping a floor under oil and gold," said Walter "Bucky" Hellwig, who helps manage $17 billion at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB Index fell 1 percent on Monday but finished the first half up 10 percent, on track to its first positive year since 2010. It rose about 1 percent for the quarter and month.

Arabica coffee was headed for a 55 percent gain for the year so far, its biggest six-month gain in four years, after a drought in top coffee grower Brazil fueled crop worries.

Lean hog futures rose 55 percent from December after a deadly pig virus sharply reduced the U.S. hog herd. On Monday, the front-month hog contract in Chicago was up 1.3 percent, hovering above $1.32 a lb.

Oil and gold prices were range-bound for months until recent troubles in the Middle East and Crimean regions drove both higher. Oil supply worries propelled benchmark Brent crude to gains of 3 percent this month.

Gold rose for the day and notched its second quarterly gain after investors bought the precious metal as an insurance against growing geopolitical risks.

Copper eased for the session but posted a second monthly gain on investor concerns about tighter inventories amid signs of solid demand growth in China and an improving U.S. economy.

The most-active second-month position for arabica in New York settled at $1.710 a lb, up from its December close of $1.1295. For the session, it rose 1.5 percent.

The spot price of gold hit a 2-1/2 month high above $1,328 an ounce for the session. It was up 10 percent on the year; 3 percent on the quarter and 1 percent on the day.

In the oil markets, Brent traded near $112 a barrel, up 1.4 percent on the year and down 0.8 percent on the day after profit-taking diluted gains from a price run-up over the past two weeks related to Iraq.

U.S. crude slipped 0.4 percent on Monday but hovered at around $105, up 7 percent so far this year.

Heavy fighting in the north of Iraq has had little impact on the southern refineries that produce around 90 percent of the OPEC member's oil shipments. In Ukraine, a ceasefire has managed to stop the worst of killings in a separatist war.

Even so, analysts said fear of more trouble in the two regions would prevent oil prices from falling too much.

"We'll be well supported as long as there are issues in Iraq and Russia," said Carl Larry, CEO of consultancy Oil Outlooks in Houston, Texas.

(By Barani Krishnan; Editing by David Gregorio)

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