Oil prices tumbled this week, hampered by oversupplies and weak global demand despite a pickup for the US economy, traders said.
On Friday, official data showed the US unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent last month, the lowest level in six-and-a-half years, as the country capped its best year for job creation since 1999.
OIL: Crude hit a new five-and-a-half-year low point.
Brent North Sea crude dropped to US$48.90 a barrel on Friday and the New York price hit US$46.85 on Wednesday — the lowest levels since late April 2009.
“The move below US$50 shows how momentum is everything here,” CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said.
“With no sign that OPEC will do anything about overproduction, it seems likely that we could well see further declines towards US$40 in the coming weeks — particularly given that demand shows no signs of picking up,” he said.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February tumbled to US$49.67 a barrel from US$57.02 the previous week.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for February slumped to US$47.96 a barrel from US$53.49.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold won support from its status as an economic haven amid concerns for the eurozone.
Falling industrial output and exports suggest Germany’s current economic weakness is not over yet, while concerns persist regarding Greece’s future role in the single currency bloc.
By Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to US$1,217.75 an ounce from US$1,172 a week earlier.
Silver climbed to US$16.24 an ounce from US$15.71.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum rose to US$1,225 an ounce from US$1,193.
Palladium edged up to US$795 an ounce from US$791.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals mostly slid, hit by a stronger US dollar and more poorly received Chinese data. Copper was additionally hit by high stockpiles, analysts said.
Sliding oil prices weighed on aluminum, with higher production of the metal forecast owing to the cheaper cost of crude.
Chinese inflation rebounded marginally last month, the government said on Friday, but economists warned of deflationary threats and called for more monetary stimulus to boost slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months dropped to US$6,112 a tonne from US$6,242.25 the previous week.
Three-month aluminum slid to US$1,820.50 a tonne from US$1,846.
Three-month lead retreated to US$1,839.75 a tonne from US$1,860.25.
Three-month tin rose to US$19,630 a tonne from US$19,275.
Three-month nickel climbed to US$15,508 a tonne from US$14,971.
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