Gold strikes record high close to 1,300 dollars an ounce
Gold prices struck record highs close to 1,300 dollars this week as investors sought alternatives to the dollar amid heightened fears about the fragile state of the US economic recovery.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices hit an all-time peak of 1,282.97 dollars an ounce on Friday as the dollar waned on mounting expectations that the Federal Reserve will pump more money into the flagging US economy.
Sister metal silver meanwhile struck the highest levels for two and a half years, at 20.99 dollars an ounce, on the back of gold's record run higher.
"Gold is making a new high and stocks are rallying because the markets think the Fed will print more money before the end of this year just to ensure that the US economy remains on an even keel," said analyst Neil MacKinnon at VTB Capital.
"The risk for investors is that the US economy does actually fall into a 'double-dip' (recession) and not the 'soft landing scenario' which the markets are currently discounting," he told AFP.
"Traditionally we see investors flocking to gold in times of market troubles, but this relationship is out the window this week as inflation concerns, expectations for further quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve and technical triggers have driven" up the metal, said analysts at the trading group Spead Co.
Gold this week broke June's record of 1,265 dollars an ounce.
Metals consultancy GFMS expects gold to top 1,300 dollars before the end of 2010.
London-based GFMS on Tuesday said demand from investors had been the prime driver of the gold price's rally during the first half of the year.
"Gold certainly lived up to its reputation as a safe haven in troubled times," GFMS chairman Philip Klapwijk said in the group's latest annual survey of the precious metal.
"Just look at the explosion in investor interest that followed the sovereign debt crisis unfurling in Europe," he added.
The EU on Monday warned that fears of a resurgent eurozone debt crisis were likely to stunt European economic growth prospects this year.
Analysts meanwhile said that the US economy remained fragile despite a drop in the number of people claiming jobless benefits in the world's biggest economy.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold had jumped to 1,274.00 dollars an ounce from 1,246.50 dollars a week earlier.
Silver grew to 20.85 dollars an ounce from 19.90 dollars.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum rallied to 1,618 dollars an ounce from 1,545 dollars.
Palladium advanced to 547 dollars an ounce from 518 dollars.
OIL: World oil prices traded mixed as supply disruptions gave way to concerns over weak demand.
Crude futures won support on news of a leak to a pipeline taking crude from Canada to the US and as Hurricane Karl shut platforms and wells in the Mexican Gulf coast.
The week also saw the 50th anniversary of oil producers cartel OPEC. At an event to mark the landmark, OPEC secretary-general Abdalla Salem El-Badri said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries needed to adapt to a world of changing energy priorities.
"We face a changing world -- changing technologies, changing environment, changes in the market itself," El-Badri told journalists at the organisation's Vienna headquarters. "OPEC must adapt itself."
OPEC's 12 member nations together produce more than a third of the world's oil.
The head of the world's biggest airline association, IATA, meanwhile berated the oil industry and governments on Friday for investing "peanuts" in cleaner biofuels.
"Biofuels could break the tyranny of oil and lift millions from poverty along with providing a sustainable fuel source for aviation," Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association said.
Bisignani told an industry conference on aviation and the environment that the oil industry had huge multibillion dollar earnings yet little was being done to prop up biofuels made from non-food crops.
By late Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November stood at 77.89 dollars a barrel compared with 77.63 dollars for the October contract a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, Texas light sweet crude for October fell to 73.76 dollars a barrel compared with 75.86 dollars.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals advanced across the board.
"Demand has been strong" and "production problems have mounted", said BNP Paribas analyst Stephen Briggs.
By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to 7,723 dollars a tonne from 7,555 dollars.
Three-month aluminium climbed to 2,181 dollars a tonne from 2,105 dollars.
Three-month lead gained to 2,220 dollars a tonne from 2,201 dollars.
Three-month tin jumped to 23,580 dollars a tonne from 21,700 dollars from a week earlier.
Three-month zinc advanced to 2,172 dollars a tonne from 2,153 dollars.
Three-month nickel increased to 23,275 dollars a tonne from 22,750 dollars.
GRAINS AND SOYA: Maize, or corn, prices hit the highest levels for nearly two years on supply worries amid keen demand.
Prices hit 5.08 dollars a bushel -- the highest point since October 2008 -- "because of concerns about crop losses in the USA", said analysts at Commerzbank.
By Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade, maize for delivery in December gained to 5.06 dollars a bushel from 4.78 dollars the previous week.
Wheat for December fell to 7.31 dollars a bushel from 7.36 dollars.
November-dated soyabean meal -- used in animal feed -- rose to 10.58 dollars a bushel from 10.31 dollars.
COFFEE: Coffee futures rallied in London, but fell in New York a week after striking 13-year highs on keen demand from speculators.
"The current behaviour of prices reflects uncertainties concerning short-term coffee supplies," the International Coffee Organization said its latest monthly report.
"More specifically, adverse weather conditions could affect production prospects in Vietnam and in some Central American countries in crop year 2010/11."
By Friday on the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), Arabica for delivery in December fell to 190.75 US cents a pound from 192.60 cents the previous week.
On LIFFE -- London's futures exchange -- Robusta for November jumped to 1,660 dollars a tonne from 1,588 dollars.
COCOA: Cocoa prices hit fresh one-year lows on concerns over the harvest from leading producer Ivory Coast, but ended the week higher.
Prices hit 1,819 pounds a tonne in London and 2,579 dollars a tonne in New York -- the lowest points since September and July 2009 respectively.
By Friday On NYBOT, cocoa for delivery in December climbed to 2,788 dollars a tonne from 2,641 dollars a week earlier.
On LIFFE, cocoa for December gained to 1,900 pounds a tonne from 1,853 pounds.
SUGAR: Sugar futures hit fresh six-month highs owing to tight supplies.
Prices reached 648 pounds a tonne in London and 24.88 US cents a pound in New York -- the highest points since March.
"As inventories remain tight, prices could rise further in the short term. Moreover, the Brazilian harvest could end prematurely due to lack of rain," said analysts at Commerzbank.
By Friday on NYBOT, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in October increased to 24.79 US cents a pound from 22.96 cents a week earlier.
On LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for December stood at 613.10 pounds compared with 631.10 pounds for the October contract.
RUBBER: Malaysian rubber prices rose slightly.
The Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 contract climbed to 337.85 US cents a kilo from 336.10 cents a week earlier.
© 2010 AFP