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Sun, Feb 28, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Economic jitters shake up commodity markets


Commodity markets were shaken this week by mixed news on the health of the US economy, which is a key consumer of raw materials, and concerns about the impact of the Greek debt crisis.

“Commodity prices remain volatile amid the vortex of financial markets and macro-economic trends, with sentiment fragile and price moves susceptible to the mood of external markets,” Barclays Capital analysts said in a note.

OIL: Crude oil enjoyed mixed fortunes after a choppy week in which traders also tracked supply-side concerns and fluctuations in the US dollar.

New York crude breached US$80 a barrel on Monday, boosted by supply worries as a major strike gripped the French oil industry and tensions remained high over Iran’s nuclear program.

Oil “poked above US$80 a barrel on a slew of supply-related issues that have crept up, raising worries that the combination of these things may cut into the global oil supply glut,” analyst Phil Flynn of PFG Best said.

By late on Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), Texas light sweet crude for delivery in April, rose to US$79.64 a barrel from US$79.33 for the expired March contract a week earlier.

Brent North Sea crude for April eased to US$76.53 from US$77.70 on London’s Intercontinental­Exchange (ICE).

BASE METALS: Base metals prices mostly dropped.

“Uncertainty over the Greek debt situation continued to weigh on broad market sentiment alongside a sharp pick-up in weekly US jobless claims,” Barclays Capital analysts said.

By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months dipped to US$7,100 a tonne from US$7,320 the previous week.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold dipped in value, but silver eked out a slender gain.

By Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold declined to US$1,108.25 an ounce from US$1,112.75 the previous week.

Silver climbed to US$16.12 an ounce from US$15.95.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum advanced to US$1,533 an ounce from US$1,513.

SUGAR: Prices fell further on profit-taking after hitting a recent 30-year peak at the start of the month on the back of tight supplies.

By Friday on the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in May slipped to US$0.2346 a pound (0.45kg) compared with US$0.2570 the previous week.

On LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, the price of a tonne of white sugar for May sank to £662.60 from £705.80.

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