Sun, Sep 09, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Commodities mixed, cocoa at 10-month highs


Farmers break cocoa pods in Ghana’s eastern cocoa town of Akim Akooko on Thursday. World cocoa prices hit 10-month highs this week on uncertainty over the West African crop, which in Ivory Coast and Ghana is marketed during a year-long season beginning in October, though prices remain well below heights reached last year during Ivory Coast’s war.

Photo: Reuters

Commodity prices were mixed this week in reaction to the European Central Bank’s (ECB) fresh action on tackling the eurozone debt crisis and in the wake of disappointing US jobs data, analysts said.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold hit a six-month high and silver the highest level for more than five months on the prospect of more measures from the US Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy following Friday’s poor US jobs data.

Gold futures struck US$1741.70 an ounce, reaching the highest point since the end of February, while silver jumped to US$33.67 an ounce — last reached in mid-March.

Precious metals also won support as the ECB on Thursday unveiled a key plan to buy the bonds of troubled eurozone nations.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold surged to US$1,728 an ounce from US$1,648.50 a week earlier.

Silver soared to US$32.22 an ounce from US$30.52.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum increased to US$1,593 an ounce from US$1,517.

Palladium gained to US$647 an ounce from US$623.

BASE METALS: Prices rallied on action by the ECB and prospects of further Fed stimulus.

“Whether the European proposals are enough to deal with the many pressing problems still on hand remains to be seen, but in the interim, investors seem happy bidding prices higher,” INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months jumped to US$7,822 a tonne from US$7,563 a week earlier.

Three-month aluminum rose to US$2,033 a tonne from US$1,877. Three-month lead strengthened to US$2,079 a tonne from US$1,952. Three-month tin grew to US$19,915 a tonne from US$19,450. Three-month nickel increased to US$16,300 a tonne from US$15,905. Three-month zinc advanced to US$1,960 a tonne from US$1,824.

COCOA: Prices reached fresh 10-month highs on tight supply concerns in key producing African nations.

“That prices in the past two weeks have climbed by more than 10 percent is doubtless due to the fact that the continuing dry weather in West Africa is dampening the outlook for the main crop, due to begin in October, and thus increasing the supply risks in 2012/13,” Commerzbank analysts. “Some parts of Ivory Coast and Ghana have seen just 10 to 30 percent of their usual rainfall over the past 45 days. That said, rain is forecast for the next few days, which should help bring prices down.”

Prices hit £1,748 a tonne in London and US$2,707 in New York — the highest points since November last year.

By Friday on LIFFE, cocoa for delivery in December rose to £1,736 a tonne from £1,704 a week earlier.

On the NYBOT-ICE, cocoa for December climbed to US$2,693 a tonne from US$2,607.

OIL: Oil prices retreated as traders focused on a weak demand outlook for energy.

“Despite the fact that the US dollar is getting battered [after the jobs data], oil prices aren’t buying it, slipping back on the deteriorating [demand] fundamentals rather than rising on the basis of potential further easing” by the Fed, said Michael Hewson, senior analyst at traders CMC Markets. Oil prices were weighed down earlier in the week following a slew of manufacturing data showing downbeat activity in China, Europe and the US.

By late Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October fell to US$112.93 a barrel from US$114.08 a week earlier.

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