Commodity prices rally on euro boost
Commodity prices rallied this week as the dollar weakened against the euro in reaction to global efforts to tackle an escalating eurozone debt crisis, analysts said.
The dollar won back some ground on Friday as traders booked profits ahead of next week's EU summit and after official data showed the US unemployment rate had dropped to 8.6 percent in November, its lowest level since March 2009.
Raw material prices, like equities, were buoyed this week after the central banks of the United States, the eurozone, Britain, Japan, Canada and Switzerland cut the cost of providing dollars to banks, giving more liquidity to financial markets.
The move came as European banks struggle to find cash on the markets due to concerns over the eurozone debt crisis, which is threatening Italy, Spain and even France.
Commodity prices also won support after China unexpectedly cut its ratio of obligatory bank reserves, in its strongest move yet to ease restrictions on lending.
The move, which takes effect on December 5, is a sign that the government is easing tight credit restrictions put in place to curb surging inflation and property prices.
"In the current environment, external markets, attitudes towards risk and views on the global economy are likely to stay in the driver's seat" as far as commodities are concerned, Barclays Capital analysts said in a note to clients.
"This week has seen progress surrounding the eurozone debt crisis ahead of the ... EU summit next week."
OIL: Oil prices rose as the euro rallied against the dollar.
A weaker greenback makes dollar-denominated commodities like oil cheaper for buyers holding stronger currencies, lifting demand and prices of raw materials.
Crude futures have also risen this week on international tensions over major oil exporter Iran.
The European Union, piling pressure on Iran after an attack on the British embassy, beefed up sanctions Thursday over Tehran's nuclear programme and threatened to hit its oil and finances next.
Oil from Iran in 2010 amounted to 5.8 percent of total EU imports, making Tehran the bloc's fifth-largest supplier after Russia, Norway, Libya and Saudi Arabia.
Much of the international community fears Iran's nuclear programme masks a drive for a weapons capability, though Tehran insists it serves peaceful civilian energy and medical purposes only.
By late Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January rose to $108.92 a barrel from $106.11 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for January jumped to $100.26 a barrel from $96.06.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold, seen as a safe haven in times of economic uncertainty, led the precious metals complex higher.
"We are maintaining our bullish outlook with gold expected to remain the star performer given the ongoing downside risks to global growth," said Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Lewis.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold advanced to $1,747 an ounce from $1,688.50 the previous week.
Silver jumped to $33.15 an ounce from $31.24.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum climbed to $1,559 an ounce from $1,529.
Palladium rallied to $653 an ounce from $572.
BASE METALS: Industrial metals prices mainly rallied, with copper gaining 8.0 percent.
"Spectacular advances washed over most markets on Wednesday, breaking the monotony of rather quiet conditions and tight trading ranges," said Edward Meir, analyst at INTL FC Stone financial group.
"Two hours after an unexpected Chinese reserve requirement decrease of 50 basis points, six central banks -- led by the Federal Reserve -- announced coordinated global moves to increase liquidity in what they perceived to be an increasingly clogged financial system."
By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months jumped to $7,883 a tonne from $7,276 the previous week.
Three-month aluminium gained to $2,145 a tonne from $2,004.
Three-month lead increased to $2,120 a tonne from $1,994.
Three-month tin fell to $19,800 a tonne from $20,600.
Three-month zinc advanced to $2,044 a tonne from $1,901.
Three-month nickel dipped to $17,000 a tonne from $17,035.
COCOA: Cocoa prices extended their slump on abundant supplies in the commodity's major producer Ivory Coast.
By Friday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in March dropped to £1,466 a tonne from £1,532 a week earlier.
In New York on the NYBOT-ICE, cocoa for March slid to $2,290 a tonne from $2,383.
COFFEE: Prices advanced thanks to a weaker dollar.
By Friday on LIFFE, Robusta for delivery in January jumped to $2,032 a tonne from $1,882 a week earlier.
On NYBOT-ICE, Arabica for March grew to 236.75 US cents a pound from 234 cents.
SUGAR: Sugar futures rebounded.
By Friday on NYBOT-ICE, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in March gained to 23.54 US cents a pound from 22.86 cents a week earlier.
On LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for March grew to £613.20 from £600.40.
GRAINS AND SOYA: Maize, wheat and soya prices rebounded after three weeks of losses.
By Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade, maize for delivery in March rose to $5.99 a bushel from $5.90 a week earlier.
Wheat for December increased to $6.25 a bushel from $5.89.
January-dated soyabean meal -- used in animal feed -- climbed to $11.37 a bushel from $11.06.
RUBBER: Rubber prices rose on tight supplies in producing countries due to bad weather brought on by the annual monsoon.
The Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 rose to 333.50 US cents a kilo from 322.95 cents the previous week.
© 2011 AFP