Sun, Feb 19, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Crude oil hits eight-month high amid tensions with Iran

AFP, LONDON

Star performer oil hit an eight-month peak this week on the back of simmering tensions in key crude producer Iran, but other commodities enjoyed mixed fortunes as traders tracked the Greek debt crisis.

OIL: Brent oil prices rocketed to an eight-month high early on Friday, driven by concerns over Iran and hopes that the Greek debt crisis can be resolved, traders said.

Brent North Sea crude for April delivery struck US$120.70 per barrel, its highest point since June 14 last year.

Prices also won support after the US Department of Energy reported US crude stockpiles sank by 200,000 barrels in the week ending Feb. 10, indicating strengthening demand in the world’s biggest crude consumer.

“Greater risk appetite in the light of hopes of financial assistance for Greece, coupled with the Iran crisis, have caused Brent to climb to an eight-month high of over US$120,” Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said.

By late Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April jumped to US$119.32 a barrel from US$116.93 the previous week for the March contract.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate, or light sweet crude, for March rallied to US$102.83 from US$98.04.

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals fell across the board as traders fretted over Greece and weak fourth-quarter GDP data in the eurozone.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell to US$8,293 a tonne from US$8,500 the previous week.

Three-month aluminum decreased to US$2,168 a tonne from US$2,255.

Three-month lead eased to US$2,048 a tonne from US$2,163.

Three-month zinc slid to US$1,971 a tonne from US$2,089.

Three-month nickel dipped to US$19,670 a tonne from US$20,871.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold and silver traded within a narrow range, while palladium and platinum finished the week on a flat note.

“The gold market continues to swing back and forth with the broader market as rising concerns over the next Greek bailout weighed on sentiment,” VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov said.

Meanwhile, the World Gold Council (WGC) forecast that China is set to overtake India as the world’s largest gold buyer this year as demand for the metal for jewelry and as a safe-haven investment surges.

India, the largest gold consumer and importer, saw a 7 percent decline in demand year-on-year to 933.4 tonnes last year, while demand from China jumped 20 percent to 769.8 tonnes in the same period.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold firmed to US$1,723 an ounce from US$1,711.50 the previous week.

Silver eased to US$33.48 an ounce from US$33.55.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum was unchanged at US$1,638 an ounce.

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