Global commodities experienced volatile trade this week on worries over Ukraine, with oil spiking before sliding on receding tensions, while gold sparkled as investors sought shelter from the crisis.
Sentiment was also hit by demand concerns after more weak data from China, a top consumer of raw materials.
Traders drew some strength on Friday from better-than-expected US non-farm payrolls data in the world’s biggest economy.
OIL: The oil market spiked on Monday to the highest levels this year, as the Ukraine crisis raised concerns about disruptions to energy supplies. However, prices fell back on Tuesday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was “no need” yet to send troops into Ukraine.
Markets were also hit on Wednesday by fresh concerns over growth in China, the world’s second-biggest crude consuming nation.
China’s National People’s Congress began its annual meeting on Wednesday, with Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) saying the government was targeting 7.5 percent growth for this year. The figure is below the 7.7 percent recorded last year and in 2012, and is the lowest growth rate since 1999.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April dipped to US$108.54 a barrel from US$108.99 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for April eased to US$102.52 per barrel from US$102.59.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold touched a four-month high at US$1,354.87 an ounce, as investors sought safety amid the Ukraine crisis.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to US$1,335.25 an ounce from US$1,326.50 a week earlier.
Silver rose to US$21.38 an ounce from US$21.27.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum increased to US$1,474 an ounce from US$1,447.
Palladium climbed to US$776 an ounce from US$743.
BASE METALS: Aluminum, copper and lead struck multimonth lows, partly because of poor data in key consumer China.
HSBC said on Monday its final purchasing managers index reading for China, which tracks manufacturing activity in factories and workshops, fell to 48.5 last month.
It was a slight increase on the flash PMI of 48.3, but it remained the weakest reading since July. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while anything below signals contraction.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell to US$6,854 a tonne from US$7,009 week earlier, while three-month aluminum rose to US$1,766.75 a tonne from US$1,762.
Three-month lead dipped to US$2,108 a tonne from US$2,134.
COFFEE: Prices spiked to a two-year pinnacle in New York, as traders fretted once more over drought conditions in key producer Brazil.
Arabica-quality coffee, which has surged close to 80 percent in value since the start of the year, reached US$2.041 a pound (0.45kg) on Wednesday, the highest level since early March 2012. Robusta hit a near one-year peak at US$2,136 a tonne on Tuesday.
By Friday on ICE Futures US, Arabica for delivery in May leapt to US$1.9605 a pound from US$1.7925 a week earlier.
On LIFFE, Robusta for May jumped to US$2,076 a tonne from US$2,038.