Sun, Dec 26, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Copper sets new record; oil tests two-year peaks


In a fast-moving week for commodities, copper rocketed to a new record high, coffee and sugar hit impressive multi-year peaks and crude oil struck two-year pinnacles before the Christmas break.

BASE METALS: Copper prices surged to a record US$9,392 per tonne on Tuesday on the back of upbeat Chinese data and after a key Chilean mine halted its exports.

“Copper has continued to rise this morning on supportive Chinese trade data and news that Collahuasi had called force majeure on concentrate shipments,” Barclays Capital analysts said in a note to clients. “The full and final data set for Chinese base metals November trade data paints an encouraging picture. Imports of all the metals increased — apart from nickel — with the rise in copper and tin particularly noteworthy.”

Chile’s massive Collahuasi copper mine on Monday suspended exports following a ship-loading crane accident that killed three workers at the port where its concentrate is shipped.

Meanwhile, a mystery buyer has snapped up 90 percent of the copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) amid sky-high prices for the industrial metal that is used in plumbing, heating, electrical and telecommunications wiring.

“Dominant long positions are not unusual and the LME has proven processes for dealing with these positions,” said Diarmuid O’Hegarty, LME head of regulation and compliance.

He added that the LME had “strict rules” that would require traders to lend back to the market at pre-agreed rates.

By late Friday on the LME, copper for delivery in three months rallied to US$9,339.50 a tonne from US$9,081 a week earlier. Three-month aluminum rose to US$2,446 a tonne from US$2,337.25.

OIL: Prices hit a 26-month peak, lifted by freezing weather and upbeat US data, before running into modest profit-taking before the festive break.

London Brent North Sea crude for February delivery soared to US$94.74 per barrel — the highest point since October 2008 — while New York’s light sweet crude struck a similar peak at 91.63.

By Friday afternoon on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February soared to US$93.46 a barrel, compared with US$91.78 a week earlier.

By Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Texas light sweet crude for February had jumped to US$91.51 a barrel, from US$88.01 for the now-expired January contract on Friday of the previous week.

COCOA: The market rallied as a result of ongoing violence in Ivory Coast. By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for March rose to £2,022 a tonne from £1,975 a week earlier.

By Thursday on the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), cocoa for delivery in March climbed to US$3,020 a tonne from US$2,965.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold crept toward its recent record high pinnacle.

“The price of gold should continue to be supported by demand for a safe haven from other potential economic and financial shocks,” Capital Economics analyst Julian Jessop said.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold advanced to US$1,380.50 an ounce at the late fixing from US$1,368.50 a week earlier. Silver rose to US$29.07 an ounce from US$28.78.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum increased to US$1,725 an ounce from US$1,696.

Palladium gained to US$764 an ounce from US$738.

COFFEE: Coffee soared to a fresh 13-year high at US$2.4225 per pound (0.45kg) in New York, driven by concerns over stretched global supplies.

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