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COMMODITIES-Gold up as stockmarkets fall on Fed; natgas at 4-yr high

By Barani Krishnan
    NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - U.S. gold futures closed up
more than 1 percent on Wednesday as stock markets fell amid
another cut in the Federal Reserve's stimulus, and natural gas
prices jumped 10 percent to a four-year high on forecasts for
colder weather in the next fortnight.
    Arabica coffee futures rose more than 2 percent in
New York for their highest gain in three weeks on short-covering
from a technically oversold position. 
    New York-traded cotton rose nearly 1.5 percent, its most in
a week, extending Tuesday's gains driven by technical buying and
    The gains lifted the Thomson Reuters/Core Commodity Index
, a commodities bellwether made up of 19 components, up
0.8 percent to 284.3790.
    Gold rose in choppy trade as global equity markets reacted
to a fresh cut in the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying
    U.S. gold futures for February delivery settled up
$11.40 at $1,262.20 an ounce. 
    The Fed announced a further $10 billion reduction in its
monthly bond purchases as it stuck to a plan to wind down the
extraordinary stimulus despite recent turmoil in emerging
    U.S. stocks were down as much as 1 percent, as the Fed news
added to earlier worries over an emerging market selloff. 
    Front-month natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile
Exchange closed up 52.4 cents, or 10.4 percent, at
$5.557 per million British thermal units. It was the highest
price achieved by a front-month contract in U.S. gas since Jan.
25, 2010. 
    U.S. natural gas inventories are expected to sink to the
lowest level since 2008 as cold winter weather forced utilities
to pull a record amount of gas from storage to meet the surge in
heating demand, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.
     "We've broken all sorts of records so far this winter.
We've seen the largest weekly withdrawals in December and
January, the largest monthly withdrawal in December, and we're
looking at a possible record seasonal withdrawal," said Teri
Viswanath, analyst at BNP Paribas in New York.
    Not all commodities ended the session higher though.
    U.S. crude oil futures closed a shade lower, after
government data showed a hefty build in crude inventories,
although losses were curtailed by a larger-than-expected draw in
distillates due to severely cold weather.  
    Chicago-traded soybeans fell more than 1 percent,
closing down for a second day in a row, under pressure from
expectations that a bumper South American crop will raise global
supplies. Large U.S. stockpiles also pressured wheat,
sending prices down nearly 3 percent to contract lows. 
    In London's metals markets, aluminium fell 0.6 percent to
hit a 4-1/2 year low and copper closed slightly lower
ahead of a week-long festive break in China, the world's largest
buyer of base metals. 
    Prices at 3:22 p.m. EST (2022 GMT)      
                             LAST/      NET    PCT
                             CLOSE      CHG    CHG
US crude              97.16    -0.25  -0.3%
Brent crude         107.66     0.25   0.2%
Natural gas           5.557    0.524  10.4%
US gold             1262.20    11.40   0.9%
Gold                1265.71     9.50   0.8%
US Copper              3.24    -0.01  -0.4%
LME Copper         7127.00   -13.00  -0.2%
Dollar               80.549   -0.019   0.0%
CRB              284.379    2.199   0.8%
US corn               427.50    -4.50  -1.0%
US soybeans          1269.25   -16.25  -1.3%
US wheat              551.50   -14.50  -2.6%
US Coffee            117.10     2.45   2.1%
US Cocoa            2918.00    13.00   0.4%
US Sugar              14.74    -0.28  -1.9%
US silver            19.552   19.357   1.5%
US platinum         1406.40    -1.30   0.0%
US palladium         711.15    -5.35  -0.7%    

 (Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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