Commodity markets diverged this week as dealers took their leads from the unrest in Ukraine and data out of China and the US, the world’s two largest economies.
Many markets were shutting one day earlier than usual owing to a long Easter holiday weekend.
OIL: Prices were mixed as traders weighed escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions, which could affect energy supplies heading West, against news of an expected resumption of Libyan crude exports. Futures were depressed in part by a surge in US crude inventories, but won support from better-than-expected Chinese economic growth data, traders said.
On Thursday, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June traded on London’s Intercontinental Exchange had jumped to US$109.44 a barrel, compared with US$107.78 for the May contract on April 11.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for May fell to US$103.85 a barrel from US$104.21.
BASE METALS: China’s growth data lent support to base, or industrial, metals as a winding down of trading for the Easter break prompted profit-taking.
“Sentiment was boosted by first-quarter GDP data from China, which was better than expected,” analysts at brokers Triland Metals said.
Nickel extended recent gains on Indonesia’s ban on exports of the metal that is used to make rechargeable batteries.
Indonesia in January imposed a ban on exports of mineral ore, including nickel, copper and bauxite.
On Thursday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell to US$6,648 a tonne, down from US$6,692 on Friday of the previous week.
Three-month aluminum decreased to US$1,875.50 a tonne from US$1,895, while three-month lead advanced to US$2,143 a tonne from US$2,124.75.
Three-month tin dropped to US$23,445 a tonne from US$23,563, while three-month nickel rallied to US$18,000 a tonne from US$17,464.
Three-month zinc climbed to US$2,071.50 a tonne from US$2,056.75.
PRECIOUS METALS: Prices mainly fell, while the World Gold Council forecast that China’s annual demand for gold could jump about 20 percent by 2017 as more of its increasingly wealthy population seek new ways to make money.
The forecast by the council comes after China became the world’s largest gold-consuming nation last year, overtaking India.
Annual demand for gold in the form of jewelry, coins and bars is set to hit “at least 1,350 tonnes by 2017,” the council said in a report on China.
By Thursday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold dropped to US$1,299 an ounce from US$1,318 on Friday of the previous week.
Silver retreated to US$19.62 an ounce from US$20.09.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum decreased to US$1,437 an ounce from US$1,454.
Palladium gained to US$801 an ounce from US$794.
COFFEE: Futures slid after coffee from the more than two-year highs hit the previous week because of fears of tight supplies following drought in top producer Brazil.
By Thursday on the ICE Futures US exchange, Arabica for delivery in July slumped to US$1.9180 a pound (0.45kg), compared with US$2.0470 for the May contract on Friday of the previous week.
On LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, Robusta for July dropped to US$2,086 a tonne from US$2,140.