Commodity prices rallied last year on keen demand and signs of global economic recovery, with oil soaring and gold striking record levels, while copper and sugar surged.
Many raw materials also rose this week in thin trade ahead of the New Year holiday weekend, with investors winding down for celebrations to usher in the year.
“2009 has been a rollercoaster ride for most commodity markets, with copper, sugar and New York crude performing especially well,” VTB Capital commodities analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov said. “Refined copper and raw sugar were certainly the outstanding gainers as both more than doubled from lows at the start of the year.”
“China’s unprecedented financial stimulus had certainly benefited raw materials linked to the expanding infrastructure and industrial growth,” he added. “Demand [from leading industrialized economies] has yet to show significant and sustained signs of an economy recovery. However, end-of-year data, especially from the United States, was fairly encouraging.”
Back in 2008, crude oil and base metals had forged historic peaks on supply woes, before tumbling as the global financial crisis and recession sparked demand worries.
OIL: Crude oil leapt this year by around 80 percent as traders were heartened by evidence that the battered global economy was on the mend, with the eurozone, Japan and the US escaping a fierce recession.
The worldwide economic downturn had slammed demand for energy and sent oil prices plunging to around US$33 toward the end of 2008.
New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, crept US$0.08 higher to close at US$79.36 a barrel.
London’s Brent North Sea crude for February fell US$0.10 to settle at US$77.93.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices sparkled this year, scoring a record peak of US$1,226.56 per ounce at the start of last month, before tailing off as many traders cashed in gains.
The glamorous metal has smashed records on the back of inflationary fears and increasing moves by central banks to diversify assets away from the US dollar, which weakened against the European single currency.
However, by Thursday on the London Bullion Market, gold stood at US$1,104 an ounce, down from US$1,104.50 the previous Thursday.
BASE METALS: Copper soared this week, striking a new multi-month peak, taking its annual gain to more than 140 percent as traders fretted over possible strikes in key producer Chile.
Copper hit US$7,423.75 per tonne on Thursday, reaching the highest level since September 2008.
SUGAR: Sugar prices, which have more than doubled this year, finished the year in style to strike another 28-year pinnacle above £700 on the back of tight supplies, traders said.
By Thursday on the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), the price of unrefined sugar for March rose to 27.24 US cents a pound from 26.76 cents the previous Thursday.
On LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, the price of a tonne of white sugar for delivery in March climbed to £706.30 from £694.50.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
ROAD TO HISTORY: When Lee Teng-hui joined the KMT, the likelihood of a Taiwanese becoming ROC president, much less its first directly elected one, was hard to imagine Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was born on Jan. 15, 1923, in the farming community of Sanshi Village, Taihoku Prefecture — now New Taipei City’s Sanzhi District (三芝) — during the Japanese colonial era, and rose to become mayor of Taipei and not only the Republic of China’s (ROC) first Taiwan-born president, but its first directly elected one as well. Educated in the Japanese educational system of the time, Lee, who spoke Japanese, Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Mandarin and English, won a scholarship to Kyoto Imperial University, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He earned a bachelor’s