NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Commodities were dipping across the board Thursday as stocks struggled on weak economic data and the greenback exhibited strength against the other major currencies.
"When the stock market gets hit and the dollar moves higher, commodities generally head lower," noted Robin Rosenberg, a strategist at PFGBest Research, a futures broker in Chicago.
"China's economy could be slowing -- that's why crude is down," Jimmy Tintle of Ybor City-Fla.-based futures broker Transworld Futures added.
Light sweet crude for April delivery fell $2.81 to $101.57, as a sell-off of commodities took place. Among the big losers were raw sugar for May delivery, which fell 5.4% to 28.77 cents a pound and May coffee which fell 4.4% to $2.8185 a pound. Andrew Barber of Investment Research firm Waverly Advisors, who's long in coffee, said his investment has been up 28% from the end of last year despite Thursday's pullback.
Cocoa for May delivery fell 1.8% to $3,463 a metric ton as the Ivory Coast's incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo lifted cocoa export restrictions in the world's largest cocoa-producing country.
were tumbling 3.1% to $75.62 and 3.5% to $80.07 respectively. Coffee plays such as
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
were surging 9.6% to $37.86 and 38.9% to $60.62 respectively, despite the general weakness in stocks Thursday, after the former said it will sell single-cup Starbucks coffee and Tazo tea for use in Green Mountain's Keurig brewing system.
China reported an unexpected trade deficit in February Thursday -- it's first since last March and the largest in seven years. While the Chinese Lunar Year celebrations have been blamed for the unexpected $7.3 billion deficit, the possibility that the Chinese economy may be cooling wasn't ruled out by the markets. Other dampening economic data Thursday included an unexpected dip in Australian employment for the first time in 18 months by 10,100 in February; economists had expected an increase of 20,000; meanwhile, Germany's current-account surplus fell to to ¿7.2 billion ($10.01 billion) in January from ¿19.3 billion in December, disappointing expectations.
In the United States, initial jobless claims gained 26,000 to 397,000, from 371,000 in the week ended March 5. The rise was larger than the increase of 14,000 to 382,000 that economists had expected, according to
Also Moody's downgraded Spain's credit rating by one notch to Aa2 from Aa1 with a negative outlook.
"Those kinds of forces have spooked the horse a little a bit," said Barber.
The greenback was stronger against other major currencies as European sovereign debt concerns resurfaced and the Bank of England left rates unchanged, and amid disappointing China trade data and a retreat in oil prices.
Despite the sharp, anti-inflation rhetoric among eurozone officials that's been supportive of the euro in recent weeks, the currency weakened on Thursday after Moody's downgrade of Spain's government bond rating by one notch.
Moody's warned of another possible downgrade if there were indications that Spain could miss its fiscal targets and bank restructuring costs in the country increased more than expected.
The euro was slipping 0.7% against the dollar at $1.3809 early afternoon Thursday, while the U.K. pound sterling was down 1% at $1.6048. The Australian dollar was weaker by 0.9% at $1.0014. The greenback was 0.4% higher against the Swiss franc at CHF 0.9329 and rising 0.3% against the Japanese currency at 82.972 yen.
CurrencyShares Australian Dollar Trust
was lower by 0.8% to $100.38.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note was rising 6/32 to push the yield lower to 3.447% as dampening global economic data triggered safe-haven buying.
This, even as Newport Beach, Calif.-based Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO) disclosed on Wednesday that the
Pimco Total Return Fund
, the world's biggest bond fund dumped all of its U.S. government debt holdings in February. The Total Return Fund was up 0.3% to $10.90, while the
iShares Barclays 7-10 Year Treasury Bond Fund
was rising 0.3% to $93.13.
Bill Gross, Pimco's co-chief investment officer, has been a vocal critic of interest rates and treasury bonds in recent months. In February, he said on the Pimco web site "old-fashioned gilts and Treasury bonds may need to be 'exorcised' from model portfolios and replaced with more attractive alternatives both from a risk and a reward standpoint" and that record-low interest rates were "robbing savers and taking money surreptitiously from longer-term asset holders who are incorrectly measuring future inflation."
Written by Andrea Tse in New York.
>To contact the writer of this article, click here:
>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to
>To submit a news tip, send an email to:
Copyright 2010 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.