Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Commodity markets buoyed by crisis in Ukraine


Crude oil and wheat prices were lifted this week by intensifying concerns over the Ukraine crisis, while gold advanced as many investors sought shelter from geopolitical tensions.

Many commodities also rose on bright economic growth data in the US, a top consumer of many raw materials, including crude oil.

The US economy expanded at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter, up from government growth estimates of 4 percent, official data showed.

OIL: Global oil prices climbed this week, supported by renewed Russia-Ukraine tensions and stronger-than-expected US economic growth, analysts said.

The market also gained ground this week on the back of elevated supply risks linked to simmering tensions in oil producers Iraq and Libya. However, gains were capped by abundant crude oil supplies.

“The week started with... elevated risks to oil supply with rising tensions in Libya and Russia,” analyst Rebecca Hermolle at energy consultancy Inenco said.

“On Thursday, prices tipped above US$103 as tensions heightened between Russia and Ukraine, but prices quickly fell back down,” she said.

“Ample global supply and low demand from Europe and China seem to be outweighing risks from geopolitical crises. Supply remains strong from Iraq despite the conflict in the Middle East,” she said.

Ukraine and the West said on Thursday that Russian troops were actively involved in supporting pro-Kremlin separatists who have been fighting against Kiev’s rule since April. NATO said at least 1,000 Russian troops were on the ground in east Ukraine, but Moscow insisted none of its soldiers were in the country.

The standoff between the neighbors has sparked fears of a full-fledged conflict. Such a development could cause energy prices to surge as Russia is the world’s No. 2 oil producer, and Ukraine is a key conduit for Moscow’s gas exports to Europe. By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October rose to US$102.89 a barrel from US$102.15 one week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for October stood at US$95.40 per barrel compared with US$93.11.

GRAINS AND SOYA: Wheat hit a three-week peak on Thursday, partly on the back on tensions between key exporters Ukraine and Russia.

“The further escalation of the Ukraine-Russia conflict drove the wheat price on the CBOT [Chicago Board of Trade] to a three-week high of US$5.79 per bushel,” Commerzbank analysts wrote in a note.

“Russia and Ukraine combined account for a fifth of worldwide wheat exports, so any disruption to the supply of wheat from this region would noticeably increase the demand for wheat from the US and the EU,” they said.

By Friday on the CBOT, November-dated soybean fell to US$10.24 per bushel from US$10.42 a week earlier.

Maize for delivery in December slid to US$3.67 a bushel from US$3.71.

Wheat for December rose to US$5.73 per bushel from US$5.62.

PRECIOUS METALS: The price of gold hit a one-week high at US$1,296.65 per ounce on haven demand, dragging sister metal silver to a two-week peak of US$19.90.

“In view of the further escalation of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, precious metals were in demand as safe havens,” Commerzbank analysts wrote.

“The gold price reacted by climbing for a time to nearly US$1,300 per troy ounce, while palladium temporarily exceeded the US$900 mark,” they said.

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