Commodity prices diverged this week, with New York oil striking an October-peak and gold futures hitting five-month lows as markets tracked positive US economic data, including Friday’s jobs numbers.
The US jobless rate fell to 7 percent last month — a five-year low — official data showed, raising the odds that the US Federal Reserve could soon cut its huge stimulus program. The sharp drop in the rate from 7.3 percent in October was unexpected and came as the economy generated a solid 203,000 jobs.
Analysts said the strength of the jobs report could give the Fed more reason to begin cutting back its bond-buying.
OIL: Crude future surged on Friday, but also earlier in the week, as Washington reported an unexpected weekly drop in US crude oil inventories, the first decline since mid-September.
“The series of good data releases may hint [at] greater appetite for oil by the US as demand will be boosted by increasing economic activities,” Phillip Futures investment analyst Tan Chee Tat said.
US prices won support also on the announcement that part of the Keystone pipeline in the US, would open next month, bringing oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Texas refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
The market this week also reacted to OPEC’s decision on oil output. The organization, which pumps out one-third of the world’s crude, agreed to hold its crude production ceiling at 30 million barrels per day despite oversupply concerns and competition from cheaper shale oil.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery next month climbed to US$111.20 a barrel from US$110.93 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate, or light sweet crude, for next month rallied to US$97.43 a barrel from US$93.58.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold tumbled to US$1,210.60 an ounce — the lowest level in five months — in the wake of Friday’s strong US jobs data, before recovering.
By late on Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold dropped to US$1,233 an ounce from US$1,253 a week earlier, while silver slipped to US$19.49 an ounce from US$19.93.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum slipped to US$1,367 an ounce from US$1,376, as palladium jumped to US$741 an ounce from US$724.
COCOA: Prices ended lower after reaching fresh two-year high points at the start of the week owing to tight supplies of the raw material.
By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in March fell to ￡1,736 a tonne, from ￡1,750 a week earlier.
On ICE Futures US, cocoa for March slipped to US$2,774 a tonne from US$2,789 a week earlier.
RUBBER: Prices rose on the back of positive economic data from China, the world’s biggest buyer of rubber, and owing to supply delays caused by mass anti-government protests in Bangkok, traders said.
The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 climbed to US$0.23075 US a kilogram from US$0.23015 the previous week.
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
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