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Sun, Mar 21, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Crude prices plunge as traders track US dollar, Greek woes


Oil prices sank heavily this week as traders tracked the US dollar and Greek debt concerns, and shrugged off a widely-expected decision from the 12-nation OPEC cartel to maintain crude output levels.

Many other commodities were also dragged lower by stubborn concerns about Greece, and the stronger greenback, which makes dollar-priced raw materials more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies, and therefore hits demand.

“Oil prices were getting their cue from the broader market as persistent concerns over Greece ... with the commodity complex suffering as well,” VTB Capital’s Andrey Kryuchenkov said. “Otherwise, little changed in the world of oil with market participants still digesting the bullish weekly report on US fuel inventories report and OPEC’s decision to keep production levels unchanged on Wednesday.”

OIL: World oil prices took a tumble as a strong US currency dented investor enthusiasm for dollar-priced crude, analysts said.

“It’s the euro sliding against the dollar ... everything is tumbling, so hence we are down in line with the broader market,” Kryuchenkov said.

OPEC meanwhile left its output ceiling at 24.84 million barrels a day at a meeting in Vienna on Wednesday, citing uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment and global oil demand.

The cartel, which pumps 40 percent of world oil, said it would review the economic situation at its next meeting on Oct. 14.

By late on Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Texas light sweet crude for delivery in April plunged to US$80.29 from US$82.42 a week earlier.

On London’s IntercontinentalExchange, Brent North Sea crude for May delivery dived to US$79.66 from US$80.56 for the expired April contract a week earlier.

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals mostly fell. By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months dipped to US$7,419 a tonne from US$7,480 the previous week.

Three-month aluminum fell to US$2,252 a tonne from US$2,256.

PRECIOUS METALS: The prices of precious metals diverged in subdued trading. By Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold eased to US$1,105 an ounce from US$1,106.25 the previous week.

Silver was unchanged at US$17.31 an ounce.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum edged down to US$1,617 an ounce from US$1,619. Palladium firmed to US$476 an ounce from US$464.

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