Gold prices struck six-month highs this week, as copper futures tumbled to their lowest level in nearly four years on market anxiety over slowing Chinese economic growth.
Investors also sought haven investments such as gold because of the Ukrainian crisis and as the euro spiked to a 29-month peak of almost US$1.40 on Thursday.
The US and Russia on Friday failed to resolve a Cold-War-style crisis sparked by Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea and the Ukrainian peninsula’s referendum on joining Kremlin rule today.
China on Thursday said its industrial output rose 8.6 percent annually in January and February, the slowest rate since April 2009, while retail sales — a key indicator of consumer spending — were also the worst performance for several years, despite rising 11.8 percent.
Chinese growth worries also dragged down crude oil futures, while tight supplies continued to lift the value of coffee and cocoa.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold extended its recent run of gains, reaching a six-month high at US$1,388.11 an ounce on Friday.
By late on Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold jumped to US$1,385 an ounce from US$1,335.25 a week earlier, as silver dipped to US$21.36 from US$21.38.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum gained to US$1,478 an ounce from US$1,474, while palladium grew to US$780 an ounce from US$776.
BASE METALS: Copper prices slumped for a second week running, sinking to US$6,376.25 a tonne — a depth not reached since June 2010 — due to poorly-received data from China, the world’s top consumer of base or industrial metals, while lead and tin struck eight-month lows.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months tumbled to US$6,469 a tonne from US$6,854 week earlier, while aluminium slid to US$1,733.50 from US$1,766.75, lead retreated to US$2,032.50 from US$2,108, tin fell to US$23,000 from US$23,100, increased to US$15,921 from US$15,388 and zinc slipped to US$1,979.25 from US$2,070.75.
OIL: Prices slid this week on market concerns over slower growth in China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, that overshadowed hikes to demand forecasts from OPEC and the International Energy Agency.
Oil prices slumped midweek in New York after the US Department of Energy’s weekly petroleum report showed crude-oil inventories rose for the eighth week in a row and as Washington said it planned to release some strategic reserves onto the market. US crude inventories climbed by 6.2 million barrels to 370 million in the week ended on March 7, more than triple the increase estimated.
Concerns remain that potential Western sanctions against Moscow could disrupt oil supplies from Russia, which transports more than 70 percent of its gas and oil exports to Europe through Ukraine.
COFFEE: Prices extended their winning streak to fresh highs as drought conditions continued to affect production in major producers Brazil and Vietnam.
Arabica-quality coffee reached US$0.20975 a pound (0.45kg) on Wednesday, its highest level in more than two years, as robusta hit a near 18-month peak at US$2,218 a tonne this week.
By Friday on the ICE Futures US exchange, arabica for in May advanced to US$0.20375 a pound from US$0.19605 a week ago.
On LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, robusta for May rallied to US$2,176 a tonne from US$2,076.