Gold price slumps below $1,200 per ounce
Gold tumbled this week close to a three-year low under $1,200 per ounce, hit by receding inflation fears, upbeat US data, a strong dollar and expectations of an end to the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing (QE) stimulus.
Other commodities experienced mixed fortunes as traders also eyed China's easing liquidity crisis and stronger global stock markets.
Markets have been spooked ever since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last week suggested that the US central bank could begin reducing its QE programme later this year and wind it up completely by mid-2014.
However, in a coordinated effort over the past two days, several Fed officials have stressed that markets had over-reacted to last week's announcement that it could begin tapering QE later this year.
The Fed is currently pumping out $85 billion a month into the US economy via bond purchases.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold dived under $1,200 on Thursday, before plunging on Friday to $1,180.50 per ounce -- which was the lowest level since August 3, 2010.
The precious metal -- whose twin drivers are jewellery and investment demand -- has seen its value wane recently in response to a strong greenback, which makes dollar-priced gold more expensive for buyers using rival currencies, weighing on demand.
Gold has lost a quarter of its value in the second quarter, which ends on Friday. That is the heaviest quarterly loss since the early 1970s, according to analysts at Commerzbank.
Traditionally a hedge against inflation, gold has tumbled on fears over the Fed ending its stimulus. Many investors argue that QE fuels higher inflation.
"The traditional drivers of demand for gold have all weakened or reversed in the last few months," said Capital Economics commodities analyst Julian Jessop.
"Demand for protection against inflation has faded as the Fed has started to signal the end of quantitative easing in the US. Demand for safe havens has diminished as the worst of the crisis in the eurozone appears to be over.
"Gold's status as a safe haven has itself been undermined by the recent weakness and volatility in prices, at the same time as the markets are regaining confidence in the US dollar."
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold retreated to $1,192 an ounce from $1,295.25 a week earlier.
Silver recoiled to $18.86 an ounce from $19.87.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum fell to $1,317 an ounce from $1,395.
Palladium decreased to $643 an ounce from $672.
OIL: Global oil prices rallied as traders drew strength from rising equity markets, upbeat US economic data and easing concerns over the Chinese liquidity crisis.
"This week was mostly macro driven; volumes are very thin and we are simply benefiting from firmer equity markets as concerns over China eased," said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.
"The People's Bank of China has also been seeking to calm markets over liquidity concerns, helping sentiment a little."
He added: "At the same time the upside will also be limited given recent demand fears and the comfortable long-term supply cushion."
Crude oil fell at the start of the week on economic stimulus concerns surrounding the United States and China, the world's two biggest consumers of crude.
A crisis in the Chinese banking system, which has caused lenders to put the brakes on loans, added to the pressure.
However, New York rebounded sharply on Monday after a leak forced the closure of Canadian pipelines, raising concerns about US supply disruptions.
Prices rose modestly Tuesday after a rash of positive US economic data underpinned hopes for stronger growth in the world's largest economy.
They advanced further on Wednesday despite news that the Commerce Department slashed the estimate of first quarter US GDP growth from 2.4 percent to 1.8 percent.
Crude futures extended gains on Thursday on the back of more positive economic data.
By Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August rallied to $102.88 per barrel from $100.19 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for August rose to $97.03 a barrel compared with $93.24 a week earlier.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metal prices diverged as traders also tracked the news flow on the liquidity crisis in key consumer China, dealers said.
China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, said Friday that it would "adjust" tight liquidity after a weeks-long squeeze that has rattled markets concerned over the impact on the world's second-largest economy.
"Signs of easing ... are evident from China, where money-market rates are falling further after the Chinese central bank chose not to withdraw any liquidity from the market," noted Commerzbank analysts.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months slid to $6,764.50 a tonne from $6,810 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminium dropped to $1,777 a tonne from $1,795.
Three-month lead rose to $2,060 a tonne from $2,026.
Three-month tin increased to $19,775 a tonne from $19,605.
Three-month nickel declined to $13,749 a tonne from $13,835.
Three-month zinc firmed to $1,856 a tonne from $1,849.
COCOA: Cocoa futures hit two-month lows, but finished on a positive note as traders monitored the supply outlook in key African producers.
"Cocoa futures have remained choppy assessing mixed reports coming out of West Africa," said commodities analysis publication The Public Ledger.
By Friday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in September rose to £1,457 a tonne from £1,429 a week earlier.
On New York's NYBOT-ICE exchange, cocoa for September firmed to $2,162 a tonne from $2,161.
COFFEE: Arabica prices rebounded slightly from four-year lows struck the previous week.
"New York arabica futures struggled to sustain a mild rally off last week's near four-year lows amid ideas this market might be getting oversold," added Public Ledger analysts.
"Dealers also cited less favourable harvest weather in Brazil -- a possible threat to quality."
By Friday on NYBOT-ICE, Arabica for delivery in September increased to 122.15 US cents a pound from 119.75 cents a week earlier.
On LIFFE, Robusta for September gained to $1,747 a tonne from $1,737.
SUGAR: Sugar prices advanced on fears over the impact damp weather in key producer Brazil, which has affected the harvest, dealers said.
By Friday on NYBOT-ICE, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in October rose to 16.99 US cents a pound from 16.77 cents a week earlier.
On LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for October climbed to $484.90 from $474.10.
RUBBER: Prices fell on a lack of buying interest from major consumers such as China, dealers said.
The Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 fell to 222.85 US cents a kilo from 224.85 cents the previous week.
© 2013 AFP