Commodities were broadly lower in Wednesday trading as petroleum products registered losses across the board. However, precious metals like gold were able to eke out gains.
Crude for May delivery declined $0.96, or 1.1%, to $85.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas for May delivery was down $0.08 cents, or 1.9%, to $4.02 per million British thermal units.
In other metals, silver futures were up 1.5%, or $0.26, to $18.20. Copper futures were down 0.65%, or $2.35, to $359.35.
Oil fell thanks to a inventory data from the Energy Department that showed oil stockpiles rose 1.98 million barrels to 356.2 million last week. A Bloomberg survey predicted that oil stockpiles were forecast to climb by 1.35 million barrels.
Meanwhile, gold futures finished higher Wednesday as strong safe-haven buying, spurred by continued worries over Greece's debt situtation, dominated the day.
Gold for June delivery, the most active contract, gained $17, or 1.5%, to settle at $1,153 an ounce.
Oddly, the dollar index ( DXY ) also rose to 81.48. Usually the dollar and gold move in opposite directions.
MarketWatch quoted Pradeep Unni, an analyst with Richcomm Global Services in Dubai, as saying, "in an ideal situation, a rising dollar is bearish for gold; today, and for the last couple of sessions at least, people are actually hedging their exposure to currencies into dollar and gold."
Also weighing on the market were comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who warned today that the economy is "far from being out of the woods" because of weakness in housing and stubbornly high unemployment. "Many Americans are still grappling with unemployment or foreclosure or both," he said.
In energy stocks, BP Plc ( BP ) estimated that production of North Sea Forties oil--accounting for more than a third of U.K. supplies--will rise about 4.8 percent in July.
BP shares were down 0.88%, or $0.52, to $58.84 in late Wednesday trading.
Also, Massey Energy Co. ( MEE ) is hemorrhaging market value for the second day, down more than 6% in afternoon trading as rescue workers continue to search for survivors in the worst coal mine disaster in recent history.
Shares fell more than 11 percent yesterday as rescuers continued to mount a search. More than 25 people died in an underground explosion at a Massey mine and several men are still missing.
Massey shares are down 8.86%, or $3.32, to $45.12.
Chevron Corp ( CVX ) lost a compressor at its 245,271 barrel-per-day refinery in Richmond, California, Reuters reported. That caused a flare to release materials to the atmosphere, according to a filing with state regulators on Wednesday.
Chevron shares were down 0.67%, or $0.52, to $77.36.
In other commodities, sugar futures rose Wednesday on speculation that more rain may delay the harvest in Brazil, the world's largest producer. Raw sugar for May delivery climbed $0.21, or 1.3%, to $0.16 a pound at on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. That marks the biggest gain for a most-active contract since March 30.
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