Most commodities were losing ground Wednesday, including crude oil, which dropped following the latest inventory numbers from the U.S. government. Oil for May delivery was down 63 cents at $53.35 a barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange, and reformulated gasoline was off 2 cents at $1.49 a gallon. Heating oil was slipping 2 cents to $1.48 a gallon, and natural gas was falling 3 cents to $4.32 per million British thermal units. Those moves came after the Energy Department said crude stores rose by more than 3 million barrels last week. Analysts were expecting an increase of less than half that. Gasoline stocks dropped by about a million barrels, and distillate inventories also decreased. Gold was off 50 cents at $937.50, while silver was up 3 cents at $13.47 an ounce. Copper was steady at $1.80 a pound.
Most agricultural commodities were on the downside, though cotton and frozen concentrated orange juice climbed. Wheat, corn, sugar and soybeans were among the weakest contracts. Lean hogs and cattle also declined. The dollar, meanwhile, was stronger against the pound and the Australian dollar, but it fell vs. the euro and the yen. The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index was lower by 2.18 points at 226.62. Among commodity-related stocks, miners Anglo American ( AAUK) and Rio Tinto ( RTP) fell after getting downgraded to sell by analysts at RBS. Anglo American lost 6.5% to $8.67, and Rio Tinto surrendered 3.4% to $125.60. Teck Cominco ( TCK), however, rose 4.9% to $5.82 following a UBS upgrade to buy.