Gold prices zoomed this week to a four-month peak, as investors sought shelter from weak eurozone data and fears of contagion from a bank’s problems in Portugal, dealers said.
However, the oil market sank for the third successive week, pressured by easing supply tensions in Libya and Iraq, they said.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold rallied on sliding European equities, weak eurozone industrial output data and news of a brewing bank crisis in Portugal.
The safe-haven investment hit US$1,345.46 per ounce on Thursday — touching a level last seen on March 19. That pushed sister metal silver to a similar high point at US$21.57 an ounce.
“With poor eurozone data and rumblings out of the Portuguese banking system, traders are shunning appetite for risk, instead booking profits or fleeing to traditional safe-havens such as German and UK government bonds or gold,” ETX Capital analyst Daniel Sugarman said.
Palladium scored a fresh 13-year high at US$877 an ounce on solid demand and despite the end of a strike in South Africa.
Separately, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) announced on Friday that exchange giant CME Group and news and financial information giant Thomson Reuters would provide a new electronic system for the setting of benchmark silver prices.
The LBMA said after a market consultation that the current system in which a panel of banks agree on a daily silver price “fixing” will be abolished next month to increase transparency.
By Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to US$1,335 an ounce from US$1,319.25 a week earlier.
Silver increased to US$21.41 an ounce from US$21.12.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum climbed to US$1,506 an ounce from US$1,503.
Palladium advanced to US$867 an ounce from US$866.
OIL: Global oil prices fell heavily, as fears receded about major supply disruptions in the crude-rich Middle East, analysts said.
Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at consultancy firm EY, said prices were hit by the imminent return of disrupted Libyan exports into a global market already awash with supplies.
Brent crude has shed more than US$4 since July 3 after Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani declared that authorities had regained control of two export terminals blockaded by rebels.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August dived to US$106.99 per barrel from US$110.87 one week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for August slid to US$101.35 a barrel from US$103.90.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metal prices diverged as downbeat Chinese trade data sparked profit-taking, but zinc hammered a near three-year peak at US$2,318.50 on stretched supplies.
“Chinese trade data ... was a little disappointing, which sparked gentle profit taking following the recent gains,” analysts at the Sucden brokerage said, adding China’s copper imports were down 7.9 percent sequentially last month.
China’s monthly trade surplus jumped 16.4 percent last month to US$31.6 billion, official data showed on Thursday. That fell short of the median forecast of US$36.9 billion in a survey of 21 economists by the Wall Street Journal.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell to US$7,125 a tonne from US$7,129 a week earlier.