Sun, Feb 27, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Crude rockets close to US$120 on Libya chaos

AFP, LONDON

Oil rocketed close to US$120 this week, reaching levels last seen in mid-2008, as worsening violence in Libya stoked supply jitters across the Middle East and beyond.

Gold soared to within sight of a record high as investors flocked to the safe-haven precious metal amid the growing risk of civil war in Libya.

OIL: London Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April rallied as high as US$119.79 per barrel on Thursday, the highest since August 22, 2008.

Concerns of a complete cut-off of Libya’s 1.6 million barrels a day of light crude drove prices up as Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi appeared isolated in the capital Tripoli and the country appeared to be slipping into civil war.

Brent already smashed its way past US$110 on Wednesday as Libya was gripped by a fresh wave of violence and other protests continued across the Middle East.

New York’s light sweet crude, known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), leaped above US$100 for the first time in two years, hitting a high of US$103.41 — a level last seen in late September 2008.

“Oil prices continued to surge higher as events in Libya dominate the headlines and the oil market,” Westhouse Securities analyst David Hart said. “The country’s output of high-quality crude is being significantly impacted due to the exodus of foreign personnel.”

By Friday afternoon on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April rallied at US$111.57 a barrel, compared with US$101.95 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, Texas light sweet crude for April delivery jumped to US$97.24 a barrel, compared with US$87.14 for the March contract a week earlier.

PRECIOUS METALS: The price of gold soared close to historic heights as investors sought a safe place to park their cash.

Gold hit US$1,418.20 per ounce on Thursday. That marked the highest level since early January and was not far off the record US$1,431.25 chalked up on Dec. 7 amid deepening worries over the eurozone debt crisis.

By late on Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold rose to US$1,402.50 an ounce from US$1,383.50 a week earlier.

Silver increased to US$32.54 an ounce from US$31.94.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum eased to US$1,791 an ounce from US$1,836. Palladium fell sharply to US$785 an ounce from US$858.13.

BASE METALS: Prices mainly fell as copper and tin slipped from last week’s record highs on profit-taking.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange (LME), copper for delivery in three months dipped to US$9,711 a tonne from US$9,885.25 a week earlier.

Three-month tin fell to US$31,788 a tonne from US$31,850 a week earlier.

COCOA: Prices rallied to the highest levels in more than 30 years as traders worried over political turmoil in Ivory Coast, the world’s leading producer of the commodity that is used to make chocolate.

New York cocoa soared as high as US$3,648 per tonne, touching a level last seen on Jan. 12, 1979. London cocoa, meanwhile, flirted with the highest level in 33 years.

“The impetus for the move higher continues to stem from the political quagmire in the Ivory Coast which has deteriorated over recent days,” Unnikrishnan at Barclays Capital said.

By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for May rallied to £2,371 a tonne from £2,249 a week earlier.

On the New York Board of Trade, cocoa for delivery in May increased to US$3,637 a tonne from US$3,465 a week earlier.

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