Commodity prices mixed amid bleak US data
Commodity prices were mixed this week amid poor economic data from the United States, with oil and gold rising but industrial metals mainly falling.
OIL: World oil prices rose over the week thanks to a late rally, although they began by slumping to the lowest levels in three months under 72 dollars.
"Further doubts about the fragile pace of the US economic recovery could add further pressure ... and could see crude oil prices testing the downside around 70 (dollars) per barrel," said Myrto Sokou, analyst at Sucden Financial Research.
US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said Friday that the central bank would take more aggressive steps to boost growth if the economic outlook "deteriorated significantly".
It was his strongest signal yet that the Fed could resume massive purchases of longer-term debt if the economy worsened, a move that would add to the Federal Reserve's already bloated balance sheet.
Bernanke spoke just after the US government slashed second quarter growth in the world's largest economy to a pace of 1.6 percent, signalling a more pronounced slowdown in the recovery from recession.
Gross domestic product growth in the April-June period fell from 3.7 percent in the first quarter on the back of a massive trade deficit and weak private inventory investment, the Commerce Department said.
By late Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for October rose to 75.77 dollars from 74.62 dollars the previous week.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, Texas light sweet crude for delivery in October stood at 73.88 dollars a barrel compared with 73.81 dollars for the September contract, which expired last week.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices reached two-month highs thanks to its status as a safe-haven investment.
Gold reached 1,244.30 dollars an ounce on Thursday -- the highest point since June 30.
Industry body the World Gold Council this week said that the metal's demand would be powered for the rest of 2010 by emerging market giants India and China and by increased buying by investors.
"Gold will remain robust during 2010 as a result of accelerating demand from India and China, as well as increasing global investment demand driven by continuing uncertainty over public debt and economic recovery," the WGC said.
The precious metal hit a record 1,265.30 dollars an ounce on June 21, propelled partly by concerns over the poor economic climate.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold advanced to 1,235 dollars an ounce from 1,223.50 dollars a week earlier.
Silver grew to 19.03 dollars an ounce from 18.14 dollars, gaining from gold's rise.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum gained to 1,530 dollars an ounce from 1,512 dollars.
Palladium climbed to 503 dollars an ounce from 478 dollars.
BASE METALS: The prices of base or industrial metals mostly fell.
"Base metals took fright at the dark clouds gathering over the global outlook," said Credit Agricole analyst Robin Bahr.
By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to 7,291 dollars a tonne from 7,243 dollars.
Three-month aluminium dropped to 2,013 dollars a tonne from 2,038 dollars.
Three-month lead slipped to 2,034 dollars a tonne from 2,055 dollars.
Three-month tin slid to 20,610 dollars a tonne from 20,650 dollars from a week earlier.
Three-month zinc eased to 2,055 dollars a tonne from 2,058 dollars.
Three-month nickel retreated to 21,450 dollars a tonne from 21,500 dollars.
GRAINS AND SOYA: Wheat futures fell as Russia's drought eased.
Wheat had soared to 8.68 dollars a bushel (about 25 kilogrammes) on August 6 -- the highest level for two years as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin banned Russian grain exports over a record drought.
Amid supply fears, a consortium of scientists on Friday published the first genome for wheat, an achievement that should benefit food security challenged by Earth's surging population, climate change and an emerging plant pest.
British researchers said they had unravelled 95 percent of the genetic code for a benchmark variety of wheat known as Chinese Spring line 42.
The draft has been placed in the public domain to help spur research into improving wheat yields and strengthening resilience to disease, water stress and insects.
"Recent short-term price spikes in the wheat markets have shown how vulnerable our food system is to shocks and potential shortages," said Doug Kell, head of Britain's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), a public-sector organisation which backed the work.
"The best way to support our food security is by using modern research strategies to understand how we can deliver sustainable increases in crop yields, especially in the face of climate change."
By Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade, wheat for delivery in December fell to 6.87 dollars a bushel from 7.12 dollars the previous week.
Maize for December rose to 4.37 dollars a bushel from 4.36 dollars.
November-dated soyabean meal -- used in animal feed -- increased to 10.21 dollars a bushel from 10.04 dollars.
COFFEE: Coffee futures rose close to 13-year highs on Monday by reaching 188.65 US cents a pound in New York but fell over the week.
"New York blazed ahead again ... but volume was negligible and the rally was as much to do with a lack of selling than any large demand," said Ralph Hawes, an analyst at Sucden brokers.
By Friday on the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), Arabica for December dropped to 177.95 US cents a pound from 180.90 cents the previous week.
On LIFFE -- London's futures exchange -- Robusta for delivery in November fell to 1,645 dollars a tonne from 1,760 dollars.
COCOA: Cocoa prices fell further.
"Prices lost ground despite a weakening in the dollar on the publication of a bearish crop report citing a higher than predicted upcoming crop out of the Ivory Coast," said Sucden analyst Stephanie Garner.
By Friday On NYBOT, the December cocoa contract slid to 2,710 dollars a tonne from 2,878 dollars a week earlier.
On LIFFE, cocoa for delivery in December dropped to 1,939 pounds a tonne from 2,017 pounds.
SUGAR: Sugar futures headed south after recent gains on the back of Pakistan's devastating floods and Russia's drought hit production.
By Friday on NYBOT, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in October decreased to 19.44 US cents a pound from 20.01 cents a week earlier.
On LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for October declined to 570.90 pounds from 577.60 pounds.
© 2010 AFP