Raw material prices diverged this week on mixed US and Chinese economic data and an easing of geopolitical concerns, analysts said.
On Friday, all eyes were on US Federal Reserver Chair Janet Yellen as she said the US jobs market has not yet fully recovered.
OIL: New York benchmark crude dropped to stand below US$95 a barrel this week for the first time since January as a healthy supply situation offsets unrest in key producing regions.
The price was also affected by technical reasons as speculative traders sold off ahead of Wednesday’s expiry of the contract for September delivery.
Markets, meanwhile, reacted to the demand situations in the US, the world’s biggest crude consumer, and in China, the largest user of energy overall.
The US Department of Energy said that US crude oil stockpiles slumped 4.5 million barrels in the week ending Aug. 15, which was far heavier than expectations for a drop of 900,000 barrels.
However, in China, manufacturing data came in weaker-than-forecast, with the HSBC preliminary purchasing managers index for manufacturing slipping to 50.3 this month, from 51.7 last month.
Traders continued to track political developments in crude producers Libya and Iraq, as well as Ukraine, a key conduit for Russian gas exports to Europe.
In Iraq, the OPEC oil cartel’s second-biggest producer, Islamist militants who have overrun large swathes of the country’s north and west are now being pinned back by US military strikes that began on Aug. 8. In Libya, another OPEC member, crude exports are steadily increasing after a deal between Tripoli and rebels ended a year-long blockade of terminals.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October dropped to US$102.15 a barrel from US$102.32 one week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for October stood at US$93.11 a barrel compared with US$95.63 for the September contract one week earlier.
PRECIOUS METALS: Palladium prices struck a 13-year peak on expectations that strong global demand would continue to outpace supply, analysts said.
The price of palladium on Monday advanced to US$901.45 an ounce, reaching the highest level since February 2001, before pulling back by the end of the week.
“Palladium climbed to a 13-year nominal high in the longest run of gains in more than a month on concern supply will lag demand and add to shortages,” analyst Mark O’Byrne at bullion dealer GoldCore said.
Gold prices, meanwhile, slid this week owing to a stronger US dollar, traders said.
By Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold fell to US$1,277.25 an ounce from US$1,296 a week earlier.
Silver slid to US$19.49 an ounce from US$19.86.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum dropped to US$1,416 an ounce from US$1,446.
Palladium climbed to US$883 an ounce from US$878.
BASE METALS: Prices mainly rebounded thanks to solid US data, as aluminum hit an 18-month high at US$2,083.75 a tonne, supported by technical factors, traders said.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to US$7,058 a tonne from US$6,84 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminum rose to US$2,064 a tonne from US$2,003.25.
Three-month lead gained to US$2,254 a tonne from US$2,199.
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