Sun, Jun 24, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Commodity prices slump on global economic strains


Commodity prices slumped this week, with Brent oil crashing to 18-month lows and metals tumbling, as more dark clouds appeared over an already troubled global economy.

OIL: Brent crude oil dropped under US$90 a barrel for the first time since December 2010 on weak demand expectations for crude caused by the eurozone debt crisis and weakening growth in the US and China, analysts said.

Brent North Sea crude slid to US$88.49 a barrel on Friday, while New York’s main light sweet crude contract fell to an eight-month low of US$77.56 a barrel.

Brent on Thursday also went under US$90 for the first time in 18 months.

Demand expectations lost ground after data signaled more weak economic growth in the US, China and Europe, and US Department of Energy figures showed an unexpected expansion of stockpiles.

Muted new stimulus efforts and a cut in the US growth forecast by the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday were followed on Thursday by a dim reading on a closely watched China industry purchasing managers’ index (PMI) from HSBC bank, which fell to 48.1 this month from 48.4 last month on shrinking exports and weak domestic demand.

By late Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August plunged to US$90.62 a barrel from US$97.57 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for August stood at US$79.39 a barrel compared with US$83.92 for the expired July contract a week earlier.

PRECIOUS METALS: Prices slid, with silver hitting a six-month low at US$26.62 an ounce.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold slid to US$1,565.50 an ounce from US$1,627.25 a week earlier.

Silver dropped to US$26.81 an ounce from US$28.66.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum decreased to US$1,435 an ounce from US$1,493.

Palladium fell to US$608 an ounce from US$632 an ounce.

BASE METALS: Base metals prices plunged to multi-month lows, with losses accelerating late in the week on poor Chinese manufacturing data.

Copper on Friday hit a six-month low at US$7,219.50 a tonne, while aluminum struck a two-year trough at US$1,854 a tonne.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months slumped to US$7,339 a tonne from US$7,516.50 a week earlier.

Three-month aluminum dropped to US$1,878 a tonne from US$1,937; three-month lead decreased to US$1,820 a tonne from US$1,933.75; three-month tin slid to US$18,410 a tonne from US$19,700; three-month nickel retreated to US$16,350 a tonne from $16,750; and three-month zinc fell to US$1,813 a tonne from US$1,907.25.

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