Sun, Feb 09, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Commodity prices unfazed by poor economic data

AFP, LONDON

A handout picture provided by the Osservatore Romano on Thursday shows Pope Francis standing in front of a chocolate statue of him in Vatican City on Wednesday. The lifesize statue, for which 1.5 tonnes of cocoa were used, was handed to the pope on Wednesday during a general audience on St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

Photo: EPA

Oil and metals prices rose this week, but gains were capped by poorly received data out of the US and China, the world’s two biggest economies.

Coffee and sugar futures jumped as exceptionally dry Brazilian weather raised concerns over tight supplies, while cocoa hit new peaks on deficit fears.

Traders on Friday reacted with disappointment to data showing that the US economy added 113,000 jobs last month, far fewer than market expectations of 175,000.

OIL: Crude oil briefly hit the highest level so far this year, propelled by a weaker US dollar and strong heating fuel demand in the US, but ended the week just modest gains following the jobless figures.

By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March climbed to US$108.01 a barrel from US$107.18 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for March gained to US$98.13 a barrel from US$97.84.

PRECIOUS METALS: Platinum futures failed to win support this week from strike action in South Africa.

South Africa’s worker group AMCU on Thursday said that salary negotiations remained on track two weeks into a massive strike at the country’s platinum mines, contradicting an announcement by producers.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold gained to US$1,259.25 an ounce from US$1,251 a week earlier.

Silver advanced to US$19.87 an ounce from US$19.31.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum fell to US$1,379 an ounce from US$1,382.

Palladium edged up to US$711 an ounce from US$707.

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals prices climbed on slightly easing concerns over emerging markets, despite poor data from China at the start of the week that temporarily depressed prices.

By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to US$7,143 a tonne from US$7,063 week earlier.

Three-month aluminum rose to US$1,722 a tonne from US$1,713.50.

Three-month lead advanced to US$2,132 a tonne from US$2,108, while three-month tin climbed to US$22,160 a tonne from US$21,925.

Three-month nickel rose to US$14,140 a tonne from US$13,750, while three-month zinc grew to US$2,064 a tonne from US$1,964.

COFFEE: The price of coffee surged to the highest levels in months because of extremely dry weather in Brazil, which could crimp harvests in the country, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of the commodity.

“As Brazil produces over a third of global coffee supplies and almost a quarter of the world’s sugar, any disruption to output there could have a significant impact on world markets,” said Thomas Pugh, an economist at the Capital Economics consultancy.

By Friday on the ICE Futures US exchange, Arabica for delivery in March surged to US$1.3660 a pound (0.45kg) from US$1.1450 a week earlier.

On LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, Robusta for March rallied to US$1,829 a tonne from US$1,700.

SUGAR: Prices hit the highest points this year.

By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for delivery in March advanced to US$432.50 from US$404.90 a week earlier.

On New York’s ICE Futures US exchange, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in March grew to US$0.1568 a pound from US$0.1505.

COCOA: Prices continued to hit two-and-a-half-year highs on the prospect of a further production deficit this year.

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