LONDON/SINGAPORE, July 1 -- Most industrial commodities fell on Wednesday after disappointing U.S. employment data, and some markets headed for their first quarterly loss in 18 months.
Copper, used extensively in construction, fell to a one-week low after the release of data showing U.S. private employers added a paltry 13,000 jobs in June, compared with a revised gain of 57,000 in May.
However, oil rose 1 percent, correcting from Tuesday's heavy losses, but remains under pressure from concerns over economic recovery.
Crude oil prices have fallen by 9 percent in the past three months, posting the first quarterly drop since the peak of the financial crisis in late 2008.
Zinc's fall of 25 percent was the metal's second quarterly drop since the end of 2008, and its biggest decline since then. Copper and aluminium are heading for their first quarterly losses since the end of 2008.
Raw sugar rose on Wednesday, but has been the worst performing commodity in 2010 to date, despite modest gains early on Wednesday.
The 19-commodity Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodity benchmark, is also heading for its poorest quarter since the fourth quarter of 2008.
"This is a market that from a macro perspective is not looking very robust," said Deutsche Bank analyst Dan Brebner.
"The conditions in Europe continue to look highly risky," he said. "There are questions with respect to the U.S. possibly slipping into another recession. Risk aversion is likely to be elevated."
Investors will look to the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) at 1345 GMT. Economists predict the PMI will slip to 59.0 in June from May's 59.7 reading, though still reflecting expansion.
A steep fall in U.S. consumer confidence data on Tuesday, concerns over European bank financing and indications of slower growth from China subdued sentiment.
But gold bucked the trend and is on course for its best performance since the fourth quarter of 2007, reflecting its status as a safer alternative to what are seen as risky assets.
The metal is poised to extend gains and could hit last week's record high of $1,264.90. "It could easily get there if economic data is disappointing," said Citigroup analyst David Thurtell.
World stocks stabilised on Wednesday after their biggest one-day plunge in over a year on Tuesday, but stress on banks and fears of a double-dip global recession kept investors at bay.
U.S. corn futures lifted off nine-month lows in light trade on Wednesday. Corn prices have struggled all year as prospects for a huge U.S. corn acreage more than offset China's most-active corn buying in 15 years and expected record corn consumption for ethanol production.