Mon May 14, 2012 9:12pm GMT
(Updates with markets’ close; technical comment on CRB)
* CRB at lowest since October 2010 * U.S. crude, copper, gold near 4-month lows * Raw sugar rebounds after nearing 20-month bottom By Barani Krishnan NEW YORK, May 14 (Reuters) - The selloff in commodities deepened o n M onday, with U.S. crude oil sinking below $95 and a benchmark index for resource markets touching a 19-month bottom, as Greece's political woes exacerbated fears that trouble in Europe would drag down demand for raw materials. The euro's slide to December lows sent the dollar rallying anew, further pressing commodities which are mostly priced in the U.S. currency.
"Risk-on assets in general are falling due to the fact that investors are starting to understand the reality of the fact that the global economy is going to slow, not grow, in the near future," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive at New York's Sarhan Capital. Efforts to form a coalition government in Greece after its May 6 elections remained inconclusive, throwing into limbo the country's debt commitments. European Union policymakers warned Athens it cannot remain in the euro zone if it tears up bailout program agreements.
China's move to free up more cash from its banks for lending after the dismal industrial production data it issued last week reaffirmed some investors' fears that the No. 2 economy was less resilient than thought. Lingering concerns about the huge trading losses revealed at top U.S. bank J.P. Morgan last week -- and whether an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could lead to more fallout in the affair -- was another negative for markets. The bank's Chief Investment Officer Ina Drew had already resigned over the losses, which experts say could exceed $3 billion. Crude oil in New York settled at a five-month low under $95.
Copper's benchmark three-month contract in London closed below $8,000 per tonne the first time in nearly a month.. Benchmark U.S. gold futures hit a four-month trough. Soybeans traded in Chicago plumbed a six-week low. "PANIC MODE" "A lot of these longs in soybeans are being held by the same traders who had money in Greece and the European Union, JPMorgan -- there are two black eyes right there," said Karl Setzer, a market analyst for Iowa-based MaxYield Cooperative. "These guys are in panic mode right now. They might have to take some profits out of commodities to cover losses on the financials." The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a closely followed indicator for commodities, fell 1.2 percent to settle below 290 points -- its lowest since October 2010. The CRB is now down nearly 6 percent on the year after a downtrend that began with the slide in oil prices over the past few weeks.
The index is also down more than 20 percent from the highs of early May 2011, when commodity markets were mostly surging on the back of a weaker dollar amid speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve might extend a stimulus plan. CRB COULD FALL MORE
Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao predicted on May 8 that the CRB could drop to as low as 286.85 within a week, or by May 15.
"This wave is the third leg of a three-wave cycle that started at the May 2, 2011, high of 370.72, unfolding towards the 50 percent Fibonacci projection level at 286.85," he wrote.
In Monday's session, the CRB was largely weighed down by the drop in U.S. crude oil, its leading commodity which accounts for nearly a quarter of its weighting.
U.S. crude settled at $94.78 a barrel, breaking the market's $95 psychological support. It fell to $93.65 during the session, a low not seen since Dec. 19.
London's Brent crude closed at $111.57, down 0.6 percent.
Not all commodities closed lower, though. U.S. raw sugar futures neared a 20-month bottom but then bounced up to settle a quarter percent higher. Robusta coffee also bucked the trend, rising to an eight-month high on tight supplies due to strong demand in emerging markets.