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Supply issues lift copper but oil down for fifth straight day Add to ...

Concerns of supply shortages lifted commodity prices like cocoa , cotton, copper and wheat on Monday, while ample inventories pressured oil prices.

U.S. crude oil futures dropped for the fifth straight day, hit by high domestic inventories that overshadowed forecasts for increases in oil demand this year.

Last week, the Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude oil inventories rose 2.62 million barrels, against expectations that stockpiles would be lower.

Despite the advance in cocoa, cotton, copper and wheat, the 19-commodity Reuters-Jefferies CRB index ended down about 0.25 per cent. Declines in oil, soybeans, corn and precious metals weighed down the index.

An export ban in Ivory Coast, which produces about a third of the world's supply of beans, pushed U.S. cocoa futures to close at $3,312 a tonne, the highest finish in a year, after earlier surging to a one-year peak at $3,393 per tonne.

Cocoa's rally was headed towards 30-year peaks after Ivory Coast presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara declared a month-long ban on exports to stop revenues reaching his rival for the country's presidency.

Ouattara has been internationally recognized as the victor of a Nov. 28 election, but incumbent Laurent Gbagbo controls cocoa flows out of the country and refuses to cede his office.

In a signal the market was taking Ouattara's call seriously, U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill, which typically buys about 15 per cent of Ivory Coast's cocoa crop, temporarily suspended cocoa purchases from the country.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said, Washington supported the one-month ban, adding: "Laurent Gbagbo needs to get the message and step down."

COTTON FUELED BY CHINESE PRICES

U.S. cotton futures rallied to their daily limit, a 150-year high, where the benchmark March contract stayed until the close at $1.6194 per lb, up 3.20 per cent.

For the second straight session, cotton reached its upside daily trading on speculative buying fueled by strong Chinese prices and tight deliverable supplies, analysts said.

"The outlook for the cotton industry is phenomenal over the next three years as (irrigation) dams are overflowing and there's a world shortage of high quality cotton," said Jeremy Callachor, chief executive of Naomi Cotton, one of Australia's largest cotton ginning firms.

Supply concerns also lifted wheat, which rose to within a few cents of near 2-1/2 year highs on strong exports and calls by France for market regulation to avoid food riots.

"We continue to see heavy demand for U.S. wheat, in particular from North Africa and it's immediate demand, as they try to quell unrest because of high food prices," said Shawn McCambridge, analyst for Prudential Bache Commodities.

Corn and soybean prices eased on profit-taking, as those two markets were already hovering near 2-1/2 year highs, vulnerable to setbacks as Argentina's crop weather improves.

INDUSTRIALS RISE

Copper ended up for a second consecutive day and tin prices notched up to a new record high as supply-side constraints reinforced a bullish outlook for both metals.

Off about 5 per cent from all-time records this year at $9,781 per tonne in London and $4.4980 per lb in New York, copper prices regained their composure late last week in anticipation of robust Chinese demand prospects, even as fears of tighter monetary policies there remained. LME tin hit a record high of $28,190 a tonne, before ending the day at $28,095, up $350 from Friday's close.

"Tin and copper are very supply constrained metals, that's not going to be resolved for many months, if not years," Robin Bhar, an analyst at Credit Agricole, said.

Gold turned weaker on technical selling, after the precious metal initially rose as a lower dollar and lingering worries about an European debt crisis helped recoup some lost ground from a two-month low last week.

A dearth of safe-haven demand in recent weeks as concerns over Euro zone sovereign debt and the U.S. economic outlook receded meant gold struggled to make fresh headway.

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