Commodity prices diverged this week, with markets impacted by superstorm Sandy and strong Chinese and US economic data ahead of the US presidential election on Tuesday.
US markets shut for two days at the start of the week as Sandy bore down on the US east coast, leaving parts of New York flooded and millions without power.
In better news for the world’s biggest economy, the US on Friday said it had added 171,000 jobs last month, far more than expected, while the unemployment rate edged up to 7.9 percent.
OIL: Oil prices fell as a stronger US dollar caused by the positive US jobs data offset disruptions to energy supplies caused by Sandy and a surprising drop in US crude inventories, traders said.
In the US, the world’s largest consumer of oil, the US Department of Energy on Thursday said that crude inventories fell by 2 million barrels last week; analysts had forecast a rise.
US energy stockpiles could drop further owing to severe refinery disruption caused by Sandy.
“Reports that a couple of refineries in the US will remain closed and expectations that European manufacturing will remain muted signals weak demand” for oil, IG trading group analyst Jason Hughes said on Friday.
By Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for December dipped to US$85.32 a barrel from US$85.81 a week earlier.
On London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in December slid to US$106.49 a barrel from US$108.81 a week earlier.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices retreated under US$1,700 an ounce, with the safe haven yellow metal losing some shine on the back of positive economic data.
“Capital continues to rotate out of the traditional safe haven play as US economic data continues to point to some form of recovery, albeit a weak one,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets trading group.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold dropped to US$1,685 an ounce from US$1,716 a week earlier.
Silver rose to US$31.92 an ounce from US$31.67.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum dipped to US$1,552 an ounce from US$1,572. Palladium rose to US$608 an ounce from US$605.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals mostly rose in a volatile week’s trading, having fallen early on before rebounding late in the week on positive Chinese and US economic data.
By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months dropped to US$7,687.50 a tonne from US$7,817 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminum increased to US$1,938 a tonne from US$1,936; three-month lead grew to US$2,099 a tonne from US$2,012; and three-month tin increased to US$20,200 a tonne from US$19,990.
Three-month nickel slipped to US$15,972 a tonne from US$16,180, while three-month zinc increased to US$1,873.75 a tonne from US$1,839.