Commodity markets diverged this week as metals benefitted from better-than-expected US jobs data, while oil futures were hit by easing supply strains.
OIL: Crude futures slid on easing concerns about supply in Iraq and Libya, but losses were capped by evidence of healthy demand in the world’s top oil consumer, the US, traders said.
Crude prices began sliding this week on Wednesday after Interim Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani said authorities had regained control of export terminals blockaded by rebels. Production in the OPEC member has been severely limited for a year after rebels last summer blockaded terminals as part of a campaign to restore autonomy in the country’s eastern region. Its output stands at about a fifth of its normal production.
Concerns over a possible supply disruption due to Iraq’s security crisis have also eased.
Islamist militants have overrun swathes of territory in Iraq in a lightning offensive since June 9, but have so far not yet directly threatened the key oil-producing region in the country’s south.
Crude price losses were capped by a bigger-than-expected drop in US inventories.
The US Energy Information Administration on Wednesday said US commercial crude inventories fell 3.2 million barrels last week, almost twice the amount predicted by analysts.
Meanwhile the US Department of Labor on Thursday said the US economy added 288,000 jobs last month, well above expectations of 215,000, cutting the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent from 6.3 percent in May.
Also supporting prices was China and Japan manufacturing expanding last month.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery next month slid to US$110.87 a barrel from US$113.18 one week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate, or light sweet crude, for next month dropped to US$103.90 a barrel from US$105.55.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold hit three-month highs before losing some of its gains because of the positive US jobs data.
Palladium hit a 13-year high at US$866.85 an ounce on solid demand and strikes in South Africa, where engineering and metals workers rejected a wage hike offer to end the country’s largest-ever strike, firms said on Friday.
By Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold rose to US$1,319.25 an ounce from US$1,317.50 a week earlier, as silver hit US$21.12 from US$21.04.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum climbed to US$1,503 an ounce from US$1,479, while palladium rose to US$866 from US$839.
COCOA: Prices steadied amid signs of a healthy crop in Ivory Coast, the world’s top producer.
By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in September eased to ￡1,919 a tonne from ￡1,924 a week earlier.
On the ICE Futures US exchange, cocoa for September fell to US$3,100 from US$3,108.
RUBBER: Prices in Kuala Lumpur fell as the ringgit strengthened against the US dollar and due to concerns about demand in top rubber consumer China.
The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 dropped to US$0.17435 a kilo from US$0.17865 a week earlier.