Oil strikes two-year peak, cocoa soars on I.Coast vote chaos

3rd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Commodities rallied this week on easing eurozone woes and strong manufacturing data, with oil scoring a two-year peak on the back of the weak dollar and freezing weather in Europe.

"Commodity prices have bounced back over recent days with an easing in concerns about European sovereign debt risk and supportive macroeconomic data releases," said Barclays Capital analyst Sudakshina Unnikrishnan.

"Global manufacturing activity remained on a solid footing in November underpinned by healthy order books, and an easing in macro concerns and sentiment turning more positive have allowed commodity market fundamentals (of supply and demand) to reassert themselves."

Across in Africa, cocoa was boosted by uncertainty over the impact of a disputed presidential election in top producer Ivory Coast.

Most raw materials also gained strength from the weak greenback, which tends to boost dollar-priced goods as they become cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies.

The dollar slumped to a one-week euro low on Friday after an unexpected jump in the US unemployment rate, which partially dampened hopes that the world's biggest economy was turning a corner in its recovery.

The US economy created a meagre 39,000 new jobs in November, well short of the 130,000 forecast by economists, as the employment rate jumped 0.2 points to 9.8 percent.

In reaction, the European single currency leapt to 1.3402 dollars, which was the highest level since November 24. The euro also rose after massive purchases of eurozone debt by the European Central Bank.

OIL: London's Brent crude oil leapt on Friday to 91.13 dollars per barrel, nailing the highest level since October 2008.

The bumper gains were supported by strong US retail and pending home sales data, alongside bitterly cold European weather which ramps up demand for energy.

"Oil prices surged higher... as cold weather continued to boost demand. This is particularly true in Europe," said Westhouse Securities analyst David Hart.

"In addition, strong US pending home sales data and declining jobless claims improved sentiment towards growth in America."

Traders welcomed news that the National Association of Realtors had reported pending home sales jumped 10.4 percent in October, much more than expected, offering a glimmer of hope to the troubled US housing market.

That was coupled with US retailers and department stores reporting that sales overall were stronger than anticipated in November, stoking hopes for the key holiday shopping season.

However on Friday, markets absorbed a disappointing jobs report in the United States, which is the world's biggest crude consuming nation.

By late Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January rose to 90.90 dollars a barrel compared with 85.41 dollars a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, Texas light sweet crude for January jumped to 88.15 dollars compared with 83.46 dollars.

COCOA: Prices rocketed to the best level since late October, as traders fretted over tense political developments in Ivory Coast.

The nation's Constitutional Council on Friday named incumbent Laurent Gbagbo winner of presidential elections, overruling provisional results that showed his rival Alassane Ouattara had won.

The council's president Paul Yao N'Dre, a close ally of Gbagbo, said he won with a slim majority of 51.45 percent against 48.55 for Ouattara.

In a declaration read out to reporters, Yao N'Dre said the council had annulled results in seven regions in the northern half of the country, Ouattara's stronghold.

It therefore ruled invalid the earlier provisional results from the Independent Electoral Commission that gave Outtara 54 percent and Gbagbo 46.

Both sides have alleged irregularities, but the United Nations mission in the country said the election was sound overall.

"This makes things even worse," Commerzbank cocoa analyst Carsten Fritsch told AFP, in reaction to the latest news.

"The country is in standstill and here is a rising risk of violence between the two groups. Therefore (it is) bullish for cocoa prices."

Prior to the news, London cocoa prices jumped to 1,960 pounds per tonne on Friday, hitting the highest level since October 25 on the back of mounting uncertainty over the election.

"There are now fears that cocoa shipments of the world's largest cocoa producer could be affected," added Fritsch.

The country produced 1.242 million tonnes of cocoa beans in the past crop year 2009/10, which was 35 percent of global supply, according to Commerzbank.

By Friday on the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), cocoa for delivery in March rallied to 2,902 dollars a tonne from 2,795 dollars a week earlier.

On LIFFE -- London's futures exchange -- cocoa for March strengthened to 1,935 pounds a tonne from 1,876 pounds.

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals were driven by increasing investor optimism over the recovering world economy.

"Prices across the complex rebounded over the past week," added Unnikrishnan at Barclays Capital.

"Better-than-expected global manufacturing activity data for November offered enough to assuage recent macroeconomic concerns."

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months soared to 8,730 dollars a tonne from 8,220 dollars a week earlier.

Three-month aluminium rose to 2,322 dollars a tonne from 2,272 dollars.

Three-month lead gained to 2,359 dollars a tonne from 2,296 dollars.

Three-month tin rallied to 25,690 dollars a tonne from 24,150 dollars from a week earlier.

Three-month zinc increased to 2,227 dollars a tonne from 2,123 dollars.

Three-month nickel surged to 23,550 dollars a tonne from 22,575 dollars.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold advanced after a sell-off last month, hitting the highest level since November 12, but fell short of its record peak.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold rose to 1,403.50 dollars an ounce at the late fixing from 1,355 dollars a week earlier.

Silver increased to 28.74 dollars an ounce from 26.62 dollars.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum stood at 1,718 dollars an ounce, from 1,639 dollars.

Palladium rallied to 758 dollars an ounce from 670 dollars.

SUGAR: The sugar market bubbled higher.

By Friday on NYBOT, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in March increased to 28.58 US cents a pound from 28.09 cents a week earlier.

On LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for March stood at 735.40 pounds compared with 715.20 pounds.

COFFEE: Coffee also gained ground.

By Friday on NYBOT, Arabica for delivery March increased to 206.10 cents a pound compared with 204.65 cents the previous week.

On LIFFE, Robusta for January rose to 1,870 dollars a tonne from 1,819 dollars.

GRAINS AND SOYA: Prices forged ahead on fears over poor weather conditions in key producing nations.

"Soft commodities like cotton and wheat continue to rise on weather-related concerns," said analyst Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

By Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade, January-dated soyabean meal -- used in animal feed -- rose to 12.93 dollars a bushel from 12.38 dollars the previous week.

Maize for delivery in December gained to 5.67 dollars a bushel from 5.20 dollars.

Wheat for December rallied to 7.75 dollars from 6.87 dollars.

RUBBER: Malaysian rubber prices drifted higher.

The Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 rose to 430.75 US cents per kilo, from 421.60 cents last week.


© 2010 AFP

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