Gold surpassed US$1,900 an ounce for the first time this week as investors continued to snap up the safe-haven investment on growth concerns, while oil gained thanks to an unclear outlook for Libyan crude output. After strong gains for commodities at the start of the week, profit-taking set in ahead of a keenly awaited speech on the economy by US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
However, prices headed higher once more as Bernanke offered up no new economic stimulus measures for the struggling US economy, reigniting investor concerns about the recovery. Instead, Bernanke said he expected US growth in the second half of the year to improve after a first half in which expansion was nearly stagnant.
His optimistic outlook however came as official data showed the US economy grew less than initially thought in the second quarter, expanding 1 percent from the first quarter, compared with the US Department of Commerce estimate of 1.3 percent.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold rocketed to US$1,913.50 an ounce on Tuesday before sliding US$200 over the following days. Investors banked profits ahead of Bernanke’s speech and also as exchanges increased their fees on gold transactions, analysts said.
Barclays Capital forecast that gold prices, which have surged in recent months on economic uncertainty, would average US$1,875 in the fourth quarter, and US$2,000 an ounce next year.
“As long as global investor interest remains robust, prices are set to venture further to new highs,” Barclays Capital analyst Suki Cooper said.
Platinum hit a three-year high of US$1,916.75 an ounce before traders booked profits.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold fell to US$1,788 an ounce from US$1,848 the previous week.
Silver dropped to US$41.06 an ounce from US$41.98.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum slipped to US$1,812 an ounce from US$1,855.
Palladium dipped to US$747 an ounce from US$750.
OIL: Crude prices rose over the week as investors tracked the endgame in oil-rich Libya and looked for clues regarding the outlook for the US economy.
Libyan oil output could take between six months and two years to return to normal, analysts said, as rebel forces looked set to bring Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule to an end.
Oil traders were also bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irene on refineries along the east coast of the US.
“The US east coast is home to about 3 to 5 percent of the country’s total refinery capacity and is the delivery hub for US-traded gasoline futures, so the hurricane should underpin crude prices in the near term,” ANZ Research senior commodities strategist Nick Trevethan said.
By late Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October rose to US$111.10 a barrel from US$108.51 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for October stood at US$85.48 a barrel compared with US$83.04 for the September contract a week earlier.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals mostly rebounded.
“Metal prices proved very robust in a volatile market climate and made gains across the board,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note to clients.
“Copper was trading at a three-week high above the US$9,000 a tonne mark. The price should remain well supported in the coming months, and not just because of production problems in Chile, the world’s largest copper producer with 34 percent of the global market,” they wrote.