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Gold, silver futures higher; crude oil and natural gas slide due to warm weather

Gold, silver futures higher; crude oil and natural gas slide due to warm weather

Gold and silver futures settled higher Wednesday, helped by the dollar's weakness.
At settlement, most-active February gold was up $3.40 at $630.30 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. March silver ended 20 cents higher at $12.925 an ounce.
Analysts at MKS Finance said speculation about the possibility of U.S. interest rate cuts next year prompted selling of the dollar, leading to a profit in the gold market.
"We continue to believe that gold will remain within the wide $618-$630 range in the short term and that volatility will carry on due to the thin holiday market conditions," said the analysts.
Silver futures followed gold's moves, getting as high as $12.94 an ounce Wednesday. February gold had a session high of $632 an ounce.
Analysts said silver will remain volatile within a wide $12.29-$13 an ounce range for the short-term.
While gold and silver strengthened, platinum and palladium slipped in light trading.
January platinum finished $7.30 lower at $1,115.70 an ounce, while March palladium settled 30 cents lower at $328.90 an ounce. However, the most-active March copper contract rose 3.60 cents to settle at $2.9140 per pound.
In Nymex energy trading, crude oil futures fell to a one-month low as warm seasonal U.S. weather, which shows little signs of letting up, damps winter demand for heating oil.
The National Weather Service is forecasting above-normal temperatures for most of the United States from Jan. 1 to at least Jan. 9. Heating oil demand is expected to be 23 percent lower than normal for the week ended Dec. 30, the NWS said on its Web site.
The front-month February light, sweet crude contract fell 76 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $60.34 a barrel. That was the lowest settlement for a the front-month contract since Nov. 27.
January heating oil fell 1.45 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $1.6088 a gallon, the lowest settlement since Oct. 31. January unleaded gasoline was up 1.53 cents at $1.5875 a gallon.
Natural gas futures dropped sharply in the last half hour of floor trade as expectations of slack gas demand for heating prompted a sell-off before the January gas futures contract expired.
Natural gas for January delivery expired Wednesday 27.5 cents, or 4.6 percent, lower at $5.838 a million British thermal units, falling further from its 10-week low Tuesday.
On the New York Board of Trade, Arabica coffee futures jumped on fund buying, but origin selling stemmed the climb. Buyers were spurred by the coffee market's positive technical profile and a small expected harvest in Brazil next June to September.
March coffee closed 1.20 cents higher at $1.2890 a pound, while May coffee finished 1.15 cents stronger at $1.3185 a pound.
Cocoa futures rose on speculative buying and short-covering that lifted prices into the closing bell, market participants said.
Most-active March cocoa gained $16 to settle at $1,637 a ton, while May cocoa rose $16 to finish at $1,658 a ton.
Meanwhile, cotton futures corrected modestly from recent gains and overbought conditions, as the failure to take out the recent high encouraged selling, market participants said.
Most-active March cotton fell 0.23 cents to settle at 56.38 cents a pound _ near the middle of the day's trading range. May lost just 0.01 cent to close at 56.99 cents a pound.
Futures on raw sugar in foreign ports slid partly due to technical sales. The March contract settled 0.07 cents lower at 11.79 cents a pound.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn futures finished with modest price declines due to light profit-taking after Tuesday's gains, coupled with the inability of futures to challenge overhead technical resistance in prior sessions.
March corn ended 1.25 cents lower at $3.8675 a bushel, and May corn closed a half-cent lower at $3.9475 a bushel.
Wheat futures fell due profit-taking and an absence of fund buying. The losses were seen as a correction to recent gains.
CBOT March wheat settled 9.75 cents lower at $5.07 a bushel, Kansas City Board of Trade March wheat closed 8 cents weaker at $5.12 a bushel, and Minneapolis Grain Exchange March wheat ended 8.25 cents lower at $5.13 a bushel.
Meanwhile, CBOT soybean futures finished with modest declines. January soybeans finished 2 cents lower at $6.6950 a bushel, and March soybeans ended 1.25 cents lower at $6.8525 a bushel. March soymeal settled 30 cents lower at $193.80 per short ton, while March soyoil ended 0.06 cents higher at 29.38 cents a pound.