Oil prices drop on oversupply, US stimulus concerns

13th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

Crude oil futures retreated this week on oversupply concerns as commodity traders focused largely on the outlook for US stimulus.

OIL: Oil prices slid on Friday as dealers fretted over a global oversupply in crude, while speculation the US Federal Reserve will soon scale back its stimulus programme also weighed.

"Investors are not only concerned about an oversupply in the US from shale oil, but also from OPEC member countries like Iraq which have pledged to increase supply even if prices fall significantly," Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, told AFP.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) earlier this month agreed to keep its production ceiling unchanged at 30 million barrels a day.

However, pledges by its members Iraq and Iran to boost output in 2014 have raised concerns about a potential glut, as US shale oil output continues to increase.

The focus on oversupply has been exacerbated after a tribal chief in Libya said a months-long blockade by armed protesters of vital oil terminals would be lifted on December 15.

The protests as well as blockades of fuel deliveries by the Berber minority have slashed Libya's output to about 250,000 barrels per day, from normal levels of nearly 1.5 million bpd.

Prices were under pressure also as upbeat US economic data pointed towards a sustained recovery in the world's biggest economy and raised speculation the Fed will soon scale back its stimulus programme, Teoh said.

The oil market has been closely following the Fed's debate on when to wind down its $85-billion-a-month stimulus.

The onset of the Fed's so-called tapering will boost the greenback, making dollar-priced oil more expensive for countries using other currencies, dampening demand.

By Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January dropped to $108.28 a barrel from $111.20 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for January fell to $97.17 a barrel from $97.43.

Gold stable; base metals higher

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices steadied after hitting five-month lows earlier this month.

Gold had the previous week briefly tumbled to reach $1,210.60 an ounce -- the lowest level in five months -- in the wake of strong US jobs data.

Expectations of a quick move to scale back US stimulus lowered concerns over possible higher inflation. Gold is seen as a hedge against higher prices.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold dipped to $1,232 an ounce from $1,233 a week earlier.

Silver climbed to $19.55 an ounce from $19.49.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum stood at $1,367 an ounce, unchanged from the previous week.

Palladium slid to $723 an ounce from $741.

BASE METALS: Industrial metals prices were "boosted by positive industrial production data from the Chinese and a weaker US dollar", said analysts at broker Triland Metals.

A cheaper US unit makes dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Chinese industrial output, which measures production at factories, workshops and mines, rose 10.0 percent in November year-on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics announced.

That was a slowdown from the 10.3 percent expansion recorded in October, but matched the median forecast of 11 economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to $7,238.50 a tonne from $7,138 a week earlier.

Three-month aluminium increased to $1,798.50 a tonne from $1,772.

Three-month lead grew to $2,140 a tonne from $2,097.

Three-month tin fell to $22,800 a tonne from $23,150.

Three-month nickel climbed to $14,050 a tonne from $13,840.

Three-month zinc advanced to $1,966.75 a tonne from $1,908.

Sugar prices hit new lows

SUGAR: Prices struck a 3.5-year low point in London, at $442.10 a tonne.

"The primary focus of the market remains big supplies," said Jack Scoville, analyst at broker Price Futures Group.

"Increased offers from India and Thailand combined with good supplies available from Brazil keep" prices on the downward trend.

By Friday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, the price of a tonne of white sugar for March dropped to $443.80 from $454.20 a week earlier.

On the ICE Futures US exchange in New York, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in March retreated to 16.24 US cents a pound from 16.83 cents a week earlier.

COCOA: Prices increased to trade around recent two-year highs amid tight supply prospects.

By Friday on LIFFE, cocoa for delivery in March rose to £1,768 a tonne from £1,736 a week earlier.

On ICE Futures US, cocoa for March grew to $2,782 a tonne from $2,774 a week earlier.

COFFEE: Futures rose in London and New York.

"The price was driven up by low exports from Vietnam in October and November, the most important grower of Robusta coffee," said analysts at Commerzbank.

"The Arabica market is likewise amply supplied," they added.

By Friday on the ICE Futures US exchange, Arabica for delivery in March climbed to 112.80 US cents a pound from 107 cents a week earlier.

On LIFFE, Robusta for March stood at $1,800 a tonne compared with $1,700 a week earlier for the less traded January contract.

RUBBER: Prices climbed amid political uncertainty in major rubber producer Thailand, traders said.

Bangkok has been shaken by more than a month of mass demonstrations aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and installing an unelected government.

The Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 rose to 233.60 US cents a kilo from 230.75 cents the previous week.

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© 2013 AFP

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