Commodity prices mainly fell this week in low-volume trade on the back of weak Chinese economic data, while many participants were away for an extended Christmas and New Year break.
Beijing released figures on Friday showing that growth in China’s services sector slowed sharply last month. The data followed news on Wednesday and Thursday that manufacturing in the country had also slowed down last month.
On the upside, precious metals eked out slender gains following heavy losses last year.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold rebounded slightly, having suffered a 28 percent slump last year on the back of weaker demand and easing inflation.
“Gold continues to shine in these early days of 2014,” Forex.com analyst Fawad Razaqzada said. “However, given the low liquidity I am skeptical about this rally, which I think is fueled by position squaring from the sellers who will likely re-emerge at higher prices.”
Last year, gold suffered its first annual loss for 12 years, while silver shed one-third of its value.
By late on Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to US$1,234.50 an ounce from US$1,214.50 a week earlier, while silver climbed to US$20.18 an ounce from US$19.92.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum increased to US$1,388 an ounce from US$1,374, as palladium advanced to US$723 an ounce from US$711.
OIL: Prices fell, hit hard by news that a Libyan field may come back online and the Chinese data.
The market slumped by about US$3 on Thursday, when a Libyan National Oil Corporation spokesman told reporters on Thursday that the 330,000-barrel-a-day El Sharara field is expected to resume normal output within two or three days, once protesters who have blocked production pull out.
Over the course of last year, Brent crude prices were virtually unchanged, while New York futures have risen more than 12 percent, amid tight supply concerns earlier in the year caused by the threat of US military action on Syria.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery next month dropped to US$108.25 a barrel from US$111.83 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate, or light sweet crude, for the following month fell to US$95.45 a barrel from US$99.62.
RUBBER: Prices in Kuala Lumpur fell further due to inactivity amid year-end festivities.
The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 slid to US$0.22550 a kilo from US$0229.25 the previous week.