Sun, May 08, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Commodities suffer deep plunge on demand fears

AFP, LONDON, with Staff Writer

Most commodities slumped this week, as traders fretted over downbeat economic data and fears of weak energy demand in the US and elsewhere, analysts said.

“Commodities in general suffered a significant setback ... as concerns over economic growth in the United States again weighed on prices,” analyst David Hart at Westhouse Securities said.

However, those losses were capped somewhat by Friday’s upbeat nonfarm payrolls data in the United States, which is a key consumer of most raw materials.

Meanwhile this week, the star commodities performer was gold, which briefly soared to another record peak, aided by demand for the safe-haven metal.

Trading was shortened because of Britain’s traditional May Day bank holiday on Monday.

OIL: World oil prices slumped, with sentiment hit by weak US economic data, a stronger dollar and concerns over dampening energy demand.

“Poor economic data out of the US and rising interest rate policies in China and India have prompted fears of growth slowdowns across the global economy, and therefore drops in demand, sending oil lower,” CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson added.

On Friday, Brent North Sea crude slumped by more than US$5 to US$105.15 a barrel — reaching the lowest level since Feb. 21. New York crude hit a similar low at US$94.63.

Oil had already plunged on Thursday, with New York crude diving at its fastest pace for two years in the wake of disappointing US jobs data and the stronger US dollar.

It lost more than 8 percent in value as it dropped below US$100 a barrel for the first time since March 16.

Crude futures have also fallen heavily in response to downbeat Chinese economic data and fears over the eurozone debt crisis after the bailout of debt-wracked Portugal.

Prices staged a modest bounceback on Friday in the wake of the upbeat payrolls numbers.

By late Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June had tumbled to US$112.85 a barrel from US$125.35 on Thursday last week, the last day of the trading week because of the royal wedding the next day.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate, or light sweet crude, for June plunged to US$100.75 a barrel from US$112.64 the previous Thursday.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold enjoyed another historic peak at US$1,577.57 per ounce, but precious metals ended with the week with sharp losses, particularly for silver, which shed 30 percent in value on mounting economic concerns.

“Commodity prices have plummeted over recent days with broad-based price weakness,” Barclays Capital analyst Sudakshina Unnikrishnan said. “A spate of selling provoked by concerns on the health of the macroeconomy, choppy external markets and a stronger dollar have all contributed to risk reduction and a sell-off across commodity markets.”

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold sank to US$1,486.50 an ounce from US$1,535.50 the previous Thursday.

Silver slumped to US$34.20 an ounce from US$48.70.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum decreased to US$1,789 an ounce from US$1,835.

Palladium slid to US$721 an ounce from US$777.

BASE METALS: Industrial metals slid sharply as traders questioned whether high price levels were justified and stubborn worries about the outlook for Chinese demand.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months dived to US$8,763.25 a tonne from US$9,384 on Thursday last week.

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