Commodity markets were buoyed this week by upbeat Chinese economic data and a weak US dollar, but trimmed gains heading into the weekend as many traders took the opportunity to cash in their gains.
Sentiment was boosted by news of a surge in China’s trade surplus, which sparked hopes that the world’s second-largest economy and biggest energy user was emerging from its slumber.
OIL: Prices spiked to three-month peaks as traders took their cue from the China data and reports of a cut in Saudi Arabian crude production, dealers said.
“Crude oil has rallied sharply ... thanks to China’s strong trade data and a weaker US dollar,” analyst Fawad Razaqzada at trading group GFT Global Markets said.
Brent oil soared on Thursday to US$113.29, the highest level since Oct. 18. New York crude hit US$94.70, its highest since Sept. 19. However, the market tailed off on Friday as profit-taking set in.
“Crude oil prices gave back yesterday’s gains and slid lower on Friday, due to some profit-taking following a stronger US dollar and mixed global equity markets,” analyst Myrto Sokou at the Sucden Financial Research brokerage said.
“It seems that news that Saudi Arabia cut oil production initially supported the oil market, but failed to give some further upside momentum,” Sokou said.
Saudi Arabia cut oil production by 700,000 barrels per day to 9 million during the last two months of last year, Brokerage Phillip Futures said in a report.
Oil was also boosted on Thursday by the European Central Bank’s decision not to cut interest rates, which was coupled with a comment from bank chief Mario Draghi that the group’s decision was “unanimous.”
By Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for delivery in February climbed to US$93.25 a barrel from US$92.65 a week earlier. On London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for February eased to US$110.19 a barrel from US$111.22 the previous week.
PRECIOUS METALS: Prices advanced as traders digested the outcome of the ECB’s latest monetary policy meeting.
“The yellow precious metal was profiting from a noticeable appreciation of the euro against the US dollar after the ECB left the key interest rates unchanged at 0.75 percent,” Commerzbank analysts said in a research note.
“An even greater role, however, was played by the fact that ECB President Draghi gave stronger emphasis than in his last communique to the abating of the sovereign-debt crisis and to the stabilization of leading economic indicators,” they said.
Gold had soared the previous week to US$1,694.81 — the highest level since Dec. 18 — as the market was driven by optimism over the US fiscal cliff deal.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold advanced to US$1,657.50 an ounce from US$1,648 a week earlier.
Silver rose to US$30.67 an ounce from US$29.32.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum rose to US$1,626 an ounce from US$1,557. Palladium climbed to US$693.5 an ounce from US$689.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals enjoyed mixed fortunes.
By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months sank to US$8,093 a tonne from $8,116.50 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminum rose to US$2,110 per tonne from US$2,090. Three-month lead slid to US$2,308 a tonne from US$2,365.24.
Three-month tin climbed to US$24,750 a tonne from US$23,975. Three-month nickel dipped to US$17,425 a tonne from US$17,585.
Three-month zinc fell to US$2,026 a tonne from US$2,063.50.