Commodity prices roiled by stronger dollar, China

19th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Oil prices endured a volatile week and metals futures fell as the dollar strengthened and Chinese economic data disappointed markets.

OIL: World oil prices edged higher, with Brent crude recovering from a two-year low point forged against a backdrop of solid supplies and dampening demand growth.

"Brent is trading somewhat more firmly than a week ago after some extremely volatile days of trading," Commerzbank analysts said in a note to clients.

European benchmark Brent began the week by sliding to $96.21 a barrel, which was the lowest level since July 2012.

Oil prices however rebounded sharply on Tuesday after the head of OPEC indicated that the crude producers' cartel could cut its production target for 2015.

They headed south once more a day later as a US crude stockpiles report showed a weekly surge of 3.7 million barrels instead of the 1.2-million barrel decline expected by the market.

"The market is unfazed by the prospect of cuts to OPEC production due to oversupply in Europe and Asia and a strong dollar, which has also dampened demand by rendering Brent crude oil more expensive when expressed in foreign currency terms," Chloe Bradley, an analyst at energy consultancy Inenco, said on Friday.

A stronger dollar added downward pressure this week to oil prices, which are traded in the US unit and become more costly for buyers using weaker currencies.

The greenback rose after the Federal Reserve stuck to its timetable on hiking US interest rates but indicated they could eventually rise more sharply than initially envisaged.

Oil traders focused also on the Scottish referendum owing to the presence of large reserves in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland.

Scots rejected independence in a vote on Thursday that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but headed for a major shake-up that will give more autonomy to both Scotland and England.

By Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November stood at $97.76 a barrel compared with $97.08 for the expired October contract one week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for October gained to $92.85 a barrel compared with $92.65.

- Metals falter -

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold struck an eight-month low and silver a four-year trough as the dollar gained strength.

"Weighing... is the firm US dollar," said analysts at Commerzbank.

IG trading group added in a note to clients: "Gold hit an eight-month low after the Fed hinted at a sooner-than-expected interest rate rise".

A stronger greenback makes dollar-priced gold and commodities more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies. That tends to dent demand and push prices lower.

Gold on Friday dropped to $1,214.27 an ounce -- the lowest level since January. At the same time, sister-metal silver hit $17.85 an ounce, the lowest since August 2010.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold had slipped to $1,219.75 an ounce from $1,231.50 a week earlier.

Silver decreased to $18.45 an ounce from $18.64.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum reversed to $1,344 an ounce from $1,360.

Palladium eased to $823 an ounce from $829.

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metal prices fell across the board for a second week running.

Prices started downbeat "after disappointing economic data were published at the weekend in China", said analysts at Commerzbank in a note to clients.

"Unless the Chinese economy picks up pace again soon, this could be reflected in weaker demand for metals and, ultimately, in lower metal prices," they added.

China reported that its industrial production stuttered in August, adding to concerns about weakening growth in the world's number two economy even after the Chinese government's stimulus measures.

By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell to $6,814 a tonne from $6,835.75 a week earlier.

Three-month aluminium dropped to $1,982 a tonne from $2,050.50.

Three-month lead slipped to $2,074 a tonne from $2,122.

Three-month tin dipped to $21,210 a tonne from $21,220.

Three-month nickel slid to $17,836 a tonne from $18,490.

Three-month zinc decreased to $2,258 a tonne from $2,281.

- Cocoa recovers -

COCOA: Prices rebounded after recent losses on worries that the Ebola virus outbreak could hit cocoa output in west Africa.

"Some traders said fears that the Ebola virus could spread into west Africa producing countries was a reason to buy," said Jack Scoville, analyst at brokers Price Futures Group.

By Friday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in December grew to £2,069 a tonne from £1,972 a week earlier.

On the ICE Futures US exchange, cocoa for December jumped to $3,200 a tonne from $3,038 a week earlier.

SUGAR: Futures recovered from multi-year lows in London, while New York futures hit a fresh four-year trough of 13.32 US cents a pound against a backdrop of large supplies of the commodity.

By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for delivery in December traded at $412.10 compared with $395.60 for the October contract a week earlier.

On ICE Futures US, the price of unrefined sugar for October dropped to 13.76 US cents a pound from 14.33 US cents a week earlier.

COFFEE: Prices extended losses.

"Prices are likely to fall somewhat temporarily when the Central and South American crops flood the market over the next few months," Commerzbank analysts said.

"In the medium term, however, Arabica coffee prices are also likely to remain at a high level given the uncertainty about future supply in Brazil, the biggest growing country."

By Friday on ICE Futures US, Arabica for delivery in December fell to 181.95 US cents a pound from 184.50 cents a week earlier.

On LIFFE, Robusta for November declined $1,950 a tonne from $1,988 a week earlier.

RUBBER: Kuala Lumpur prices eased.

The Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 ended at 151.25 US cents a kilo on Friday, down slightly from the previous week's 152.15 cents.

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© 2014 AFP

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