Copper bounced this week on supply fears after a vast earthquake in top producer Chile, while Brent oil dived on the prospect of rebounding Libyan crude supplies, analysts said.
Other commodities experienced mixed fortunes as investors digested Friday’s broadly in-line non-farm payrolls data in the US, which is a leading consumer of many raw materials.
BASE METALS: The magnitude 8.2 earthquake in Chile late on Tuesday, which killed six people, sent copper rallying on Wednesday to US$6,734 per tonne, its highest since March 10.
Chile accounts for almost one-third of global supplies of copper. However, analysts said no earthquake damage to copper facilities had been reported.
Meanwhile, nickel soared to a one-year pinnacle amid Indonesia’s ongoing ban on exports of mineral ore, including nickel, copper and bauxite. The ban has been in place since Jan. 12.
“The lack of Indonesian ore in the market is seeing ever higher ore prices, feeding through to higher production costs in China,” Macquarie analyst Colin Hamilton said.
“Nickel can still go much higher through the course of this year,” he added.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to US$6,700 a tonne from US$6,635.75 week earlier.
Three-month aluminum increased to US$1,846 a tonne from US$1,754.75, while three-month lead eased to US$2,070 a tonne from US$2,079.
Three-month tin advanced to US$23,208 a tonne from US$22,866, while three-month nickel rallied to US$16,545 a tonne from US$15,850 and three-month zinc climbed to US$2,011 a tonne from US$1,989.25.
OIL: Prices hit a fresh five-month low, as Libyan supplies appeared set to return to the market, traders said.
London’s Brent North Sea crude sank on Wednesday to US$103.95 a barrel — the lowest level since Nov. 8.
“Brent fell to a five-month low ... [with] the expectation of a growing oil supply from Libya continuing to weigh on its price,” Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said.
Rebels demanding autonomy for eastern Libya said on Thursday they had made progress in talks with the central government on reopening key oil ports they closed to exports in July last year.
A rebel spokesman said a first port might reopen as early as next week, raising hopes of an end to a nine-month blockade Tripoli says has cost the country more than US$14 billion in lost oil revenues.
The oil market staged a modest rally on Friday after the US Department of Labor report showed job growth last month was roughly in line with expectations.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May dived to US$106.77 a barrel from US$108.04.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for May dipped to US$101.21 per barrel from US$101.67 a week earlier.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold sank on Tuesday on profit-taking to a seven-week low of US$1,276.98 per ounce, before rebounding to end the week with gains.
“Gold prices fell in line with our expectations this week — before the US employment report gave gold a boost towards US$1,300 per ounce,” Barclays analyst Kevin Norrish said.
The safe-haven metal had last month forged a six-month high at US$1,392.22, as investors sought to shelter from Russia-Ukraine tensions — which have since receded.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to US$1,297.25 an ounce from US$1,294.75 a week earlier.