Commodities trade mixed amid eurozone crisis
Commodity markets enjoyed mixed fortunes this week as positive US economic data was offset by the impact of the strengthening dollar amid the burgeoning eurozone debt crisis.
Official data on Wednesday showed improvements in unemployment, consumer spending and wages in the United States, which is a major consumer of raw materials.
Markets remain under pressure, however, amid stubborn fears over the impact of the eurozone crisis and simmering tensions on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing four people and triggering an exchange of fire.
OIL: The market recovered on positive economic data in the United States and China, the world's two biggest consumers of commodities, but gains were capped by the stronger dollar.
Prices rose "after stronger than expected US economic data brought risk appetite back to the market", said Sucden Financial analyst Myrto Sokou.
"It seems that the persistent concerns about a contagious debt crisis in the eurozone have been overshadowed by stronger-than-expected macroeconomic figures from the US and China."
The market also advanced despite news of a surprise jump in US crude reserves, which were up by one million barrels in the week ending November 19.
At the same time, the euro tumbled close to 1.32 dollars on Friday, touching a fresh two-month low, as persistent worries about eurozone debt and Korea boosted the safe-haven greenback, dealers said.
The European single currency plunged, following the EU/IMF bailout of Ireland, as traders have fretted over the plight of other fiscally-challenged nations like Spain and Portugal.
A stronger dollar makes dollar-priced crude more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies which in turn tends to hit demand and prices.
By late Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January rose to 85.41 dollars a barrel compared with 84.11 dollars a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, Texas light sweet crude for January stood at 83.46 dollars compared with 81.20 dollars for the expired December contract.
BASE METALS: Prices mostly retreated, with copper and tin falling further from their recent record highs, as traders eyed the dollar.
"On balance, the metals remain in consolidation mode," said analyst William Adams at specialist website BaseMetals.com.
He added: "The dollar however has strengthened further and that is no doubt acting as a headwind for the metals."
By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months dropped to 8,220 dollars a tonne from 8,385 dollars a week earlier.
Three-month aluminium slid to 2,272 dollars a tonne from 2,284 dollars.
Three-month lead rose to 2,296 dollars a tonne from 2,270 dollars.
Three-month tin fell to 24,150 dollars a tonne from 25,200 dollars from a week earlier.
Three-month zinc decreased to 2,123 dollars a tonne from 2,142 dollars.
Three-month nickel soared to 22,575 dollars a tonne from 21,741 dollars.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold moved higher, spiking in line with Korean tensions at the start of the week, but held far below their recent record peak of 1,424.60 dollars an ounce.
"Precious metals remain resilient, supported by safe haven buying," said Deutsche Bank analysts in a research note.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold rose to 1,355 dollars an ounce at the late fixing from 1,342.50 dollars a week earlier.
Silver edged down to 26.62 dollars an ounce from 27.07 dollars.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum fell to 1,639 dollars an ounce from 1,650 dollars.
Palladium decreased to 670 dollars an ounce from 695 dollars.
COCOA: Prices fell ahead of a long-awaited presidential elections in Ivory Coast, which is the world's biggest cocoa producer.
"This Sunday sees the second round of the Ivorian elections. The market needs to brace itself in case of political unrest and any associated disruption in cocoa supplies," said Macquarie analyst Kona Haque.
Ivory Coast's presidential rivals launched a last noisy day of campaigning Friday for an election aiming to end a decade of instability, after a race marred by tensions and outbreaks of violence.
Supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo and his old rival Alassane Ouattara massed for rallies in the economic capital Abidjan, a key battleground where Gbagbo prevailed in last month's first round, their aides said.
By Friday On NYBOT, cocoa for delivery in March sank to 2,795 dollars a tonne from 2,929 dollars a week earlier.
On LIFFE, cocoa for December weakened to 1,876 pounds a tonne from 1,925 pounds.
SUGAR: The market held steady after enjoying recent multi-year highs.
Sugar, which has risen as much as 140 percent since May, is used mainly in the food and drinks sector but also goes into the production of ethanol -- a cheaper version of gasoline, or petrol.
By Friday on the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in March eased to 28.09 US cents a pound from 28.13 cents a week earlier.
On LIFFE -- London's futures exchange -- the price of a tonne of white sugar for March stood at 715.20 pounds compared with 710.90 pounds.
COFFEE: Prices fell further away from recent multi-year peaks.
By Friday on NYBOT, Arabica for delivery March declined to 204.65 cents a pound compared with 209.30 cents the previous week.
On LIFFE, Robusta for January slid to 1,819 dollars a tonne from 1,900 dollars.
GRAINS AND SOYA: Prices drifted higher.
By Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade, January-dated soyabean meal -- used in animal feed -- rose to 12.48 dollars a bushel from 12.01 dollars the previous week.
Maize for delivery in December was gained to 5.39 dollars a bushel from 5.20 dollars.
Wheat for December firmed to 6.49 dollars from 6.44 dollars.
© 2010 AFP