Brent Crude Prices Rally on Short-Covering

Features Reuters

The price of benchmark Brent crude oil rose for a second straight session on Friday on short-covering while U.S. soybeans surged on data showing bullish exports.

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Natural gas also posted strong gains, rising to a one-month high, as cold weather forecast for late this week and next should increase demand for heating.

Arabica coffee and cotton posted some of the biggest losses on the day.

Arabica tumbled more than 3 percent on late selling that wiped out early gains. Cotton sank 2 percent and touched a more than 10-month low, weighed by supply pressures, demand worries, and long liquidation.

The Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity CRB index hit a three-week high of 276.2707 points before settling lower at 275.2141, due to main component, U.S. crude oil, being down.

U.S. crude settled down 0.6 percent, or 60 cents, at $94.84 a barrel, giving back some of Thursday's 3 percent gain, which was its highest in two months.

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U.S. crude fell partly because investors sold that to buy Brent, the benchmark grade for oil. London-traded Brent ended 97 cents higher at $111.05 after setting a six-week high of $111.40.

The spread between U.S. crude and Brent widened by nearly $1.60, to create the biggest gap since March between the two oils.

In soybeans, futures on firm cash prices, good export demand and spillover strength from a 4 percent run-up in soymeal futures.

Soybeans for January delivery rose 28 cents to settle at $13.19-1/2 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. The 2.2 percent gain was the market's largest in two weeks.

Natural gas finished the week up 3 percent after gaining 4.2 percent in the previous two weeks. The combined rise of those weeks was the biggest three-week climb in nearly three months.

"We've got some supportive weather coming in, and the storage report (on Thursday) was surprisingly bullish," said Steve Mosley, gas analyst at The SMC Report in Arkansas.

Front-month gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange ended up 6.6 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $3.768 per million British thermal units after climbing to a one-month high of $3.779.

(By Barani Krishnan; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)