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Most commodities rise despite stronger U.S. dollar Add to ...

Commodities rose Thursday, as metals and some crops defied a firmer dollar, but oil gave back gains after unfounded reports that President Hosni Mubarak may quit led to speculation that unrest might ease in Egypt.

The 19-commodity Reuters-Jefferies CRB index settled up for a second straight session after copper closed not far from record highs and corn finished just below a 31-month peak hit during the session.

Other markets that rose included cocoa , which hit one-year highs, and sugar, which posted its largest gain in a week.

Wheat and soybeans were among commodities that bucked the trend, giving up part of Wednesday's hefty gains derived from a sharp reduction in crop estimates by the U.S. government.

Analysts said Friday's session may be influenced by a reading on U.S. business sentiment from the University of Michigan.

Commodities had rallied with few stops through the previous quarter, largely on optimism about economic recovery in 2011.

But since the start of this year, the run up has been less smooth as some investors feared markets had gotten ahead of themselves with the Egyptian crisis, inclement crop weather and steady demand from China taking prices to new highs.

Even so, some commodity bulls such as British investment bank Barclays Capital are betting the uptrend will continue.

BarCap suggested in a research note that the "disinflation" in commodities was over.

"Inflationary pressure stemming from stronger demand for commodities may pick up," it said.

Supporting the theory that demand was unlikely to slow no matter what, Egypt's main government wheat buyer entered global markets for a second time in a week despite the country's political turmoil.

Mubarak said on Thursday he would transfer powers to his vice president but did not step down.

Copper in London settled at $9,951 a tonne - up from $9,925 on Wednesday and not far from Monday's record high of $10,160 - despite the stronger dollar.

The dollar rose as U.S. weekly jobless claims hit a 2-1/2-year low, while the euro slumped on worries over Europe's lack of progress in tackling its debt crisis.

U.S. corn finished flat at above $6.98 per bushel after surging to its highest levels since July 2008 as weekly exports topped 1 million tonnes for a second straight week.

Corn prices have risen nearly 12 per cent this year, helped by a surge on Wednesday after the U.S. government slashed its estimate of ending stocks in the United States by 9 per cent to the lowest level in 15 years.

U.S. cocoa futures rose to their highest levels since February 2010 on fears that top grower Ivory Coast may extend its month-long ban on cocoa exports.

The May cocoa contractin New York gained almost 3 per cent, or $90, to finish above $3,370 per tonne, its loftiest settlement in more than a year.

Sugar climbed as investors continued to fret about exports from India, the world's No. 2 producer after Brazil. March raw sugar in New Yorkon ICE Futures U.S. rose almost 2 per cent to finish above 32.05 cents per lb.

In oil, Brent crude fell almost 1 per cent to settle just above $100 per barrel on reports that Mubarak may step down imminently.

Mubarak later said he was not stepping down, although he transferred power to his vice president.

The crisis in Egypt helped lift Brent above $100 a barrel over the past two weeks after concerns of a potential supply disruption to oil shipped through Egypt's Suez Canal.

U.S. oil prices retraced most of their early gains, finishing flat above $86 a barrel after rising to nearly $88 during the session.

Gold edged higher as speculation Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was to step down imminently arrested early losses in the metal, but prices remained under pressure from the firmer dollar and sharper risk appetite.

Spot gold was bid at $1,364.20 an ounce at 1632 GMT, against $1,362.89 late in New York on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures for April delivery was off 60 cents at $1,364.90.

 

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