Sun, Apr 13, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Ukraine fears push oil, gold higher


Oil prices rose this week on uncertainty over energy supplies passing through Ukraine to the West, as coffee futures rallied on tight supplies caused by drought in Brazil.

OIL: Prices rose as tensions over Ukraine and upbeat US energy demand offset poorly received Chinese data and the prospect of a return to normal Libyan crude exports, analysts said.

The latest official US inventories report showed a drop of 5.2 million barrels of fuel supplies last week, far much more than the 700,000 barrel decline that had been projected.

With Ukraine a key conduit for Russian gas to Europe, traders fear a conflict disrupting supplies and sending prices skyrocketing.

Russian deliveries account for 34 percent of natural gas supplies to the EU, said the Soufan Group, a US-based intelligence firm.

“One month after the events in Crimea, market watchers are taking stock of their impact on oil markets,” the International Energy Agency said on Friday.

The agency left its global demand forecast for the year nearly unchanged at 92.7 million barrels per day, but a trim to its forecast for growth in non-OPEC supplies means the global market will need more oil from the cartel this year.

Weighing down prices was weak import and export data for last month out of China that raised concerns over potential weaker crude demand from the world’s biggest consumer of energy.

For crude oil alone, China imported 5.54 million barrels per day last month, a decline of 8 percent from February and the weakest import volume in five months.

In Libya, the National Oil Co has lifted its force majeure notice from its Al-Hariga oil terminal. That means the country’s oil exports are likely to quadruple and hit 1 million barrels per day by mid-June, OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah El-Badri said on Friday.

By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery next month rose to US$107.78 a barrel from US$106.77 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate, or light sweet crude, for next month jumped to US$104.21 per barrel from US$101.21.

COFFEE: Futures rebounded this week, with New York prices reaching the highest levels in more than two years after Brazil’s drought.

Arabica-quality coffee hit US$0.2078 a pound (0.45kg), the highest point since February 2012.

By Friday on the ICE Futures US exchange, Arabica for next month increased to US$0.20470 a pound from US$0.176 a week earlier.

On LIFFE, Robusta for July stood at US$2,140 a tonne, compared with last week’s US$2,066 for next month’s contract.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices recovered from near two-month lows thanks to a weaker greenback and Ukraine concerns.

Gold rose “on a combination of the US stimulus outlook, tensions in Ukraine and signs of slowing demand from China,” Spreadex trader Lee Mumford said.

By Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold rose to US$1,318 an ounce from US$1,297.25 a week earlier, as silver advance to US$20.09 an ounce from US$19.93.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum rose to US$1,454 an ounce from US$1,444 from a wekk ago, as palladium gained to US$794 from US$789.

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