Sun, May 29, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Commodity prices climb amid economic turbulence

AFP, LONDON

Commodity prices advanced during a volatile trading week in which investors weighed up the impact of weak US economic growth and an escalating European debt crisis on demand for raw materials.

They also tracked signs of slowing output in commodities-hungry China.

OIL: Crude oil prices rose as dealers tracked the dollar’s fortunes, weak US data, energy demand concerns and renewed jitters over the eurozone debt crisis.

“Trading conditions continue to remain uncertain, following fairly disappointing economic data from the US and eurozone, uncertainty about a potential debt-restructure in Greece and weaker oil demand from the US, China and Japan,” said Myrto Sokou, an analyst at Sucden brokers in London.

Oil prices began the week with sharp losses, tumbling on Monday as the US dollar strengthened on the back of more European debt problems.

Prices were also pushed lower by indications of slowing economic growth in China, but then picked up sharply on Tuesday as US banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley raised their 2012 forecasts for Brent to around US$130 a barrel.

Data on Wednesday, showing a surprise increase in US crude stockpiles, took the gloss off that performance.

US crude reserves rose by 600,000 barrels in the week to May 20, confounding expectations of a fall and indicating weak demand, while gasoline inventories jumped a huge 3.8 million barrels, in contrast to predictions of a drop.

Gasoline demand is expected to pick up in the coming weeks as Americans take to the road for their summer holidays.

Highlighting the week’s volatility, the oil market sank further on Thursday as disappointing US economic data dented investor confidence, before rebounding on Friday.

The markets were hoping for an upward revision from the initial reading of 1.8 percent in first-quarter US growth, but the figures were left unchanged.

Economists said the data showed consumer spending was weaker than previously believed, with the high cost of food and fuel likely the reason.

By late on Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in July was higher at US$114.67 a barrel from US$110.92 the previous week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for July climbed to US$100.35 a barrel from US$97.41.

PRECIOUS METALS: Prices rallied across the precious metals complex, with gold benefiting from its status as a safe investment in troubled economic times.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold jumped to US$1,533 an ounce from US$1,491 the previous week.

Silver rose to US$37.69 an ounce from US$34.80.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum climbed to US$1,779 an ounce from US$1,767.

Palladium gained to US$757 an ounce from US$734.

BASE METALS: Industrial metals prices mostly rose after a turbulent start to the week. Copper shed 3.0 percent while nickel and tin dived 5.0 percent on Monday after data showed China’s economy slowing.

“Metals were battered Monday .. hit by a double-whammy of a stronger dollar and clearer signs of decelerating economic growth now becoming evident from a number of regions,” said Edward Meir, an analyst at MF Global brokers.

Base metals quickly recovered, however, helped by Goldman Sachs’ “bullish call for commodities going forward,” Meir said.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange (LME), copper for delivery in three months climbed to US$9,184 a tonne from US$9,040 the previous week.

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