Copper hits record high, ICoast unrest lifts cocoa

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Copper prices struck fresh record highs this week, helped by tight supplies of the industrial metal, while cocoa futures rallied on violent unrest in major producer Ivory Coast.

BASE METALS: Copper prices extended its recent record-breaking run by reaching an all-time high of 9,267.50 dollars a tonne.

"Where copper stands out from the crowd is in any case on the supply side. There has been no let-up in copper's severe supply constraints," said BNP Paribas analyst Stephen Briggs.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to 9,081 dollars a tonne from 9,030.50 dollars a week earlier.

Three-month aluminium climbed to 2,337.25 dollars a tonne from 2,335.75 dollars.

Three-month lead grew to 2,426 dollars a tonne from 2,416 dollars.

Three-month tin increased to 26,075 dollars a tonne from 25,690 dollars a week earlier.

Three-month zinc dipped to 2,280 dollars a tonne from 2,290 dollars.

Three-month nickel grew to 24,900 dollars a tonne from 23,990 dollars.

COCOA: Cocoa futures advanced on growing political instability in top producer Ivory Coast in the wake of disputed presidential elections in the west African nation.

The European Union on Friday ramped up widening global pressure on Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo to quit office, threatening sanctions and penal action, while telling army chiefs to defect.

Winding up a summit, the bloc's 27 leaders urged the West African nation's military and civilian officials to switch sides and back Alassane Ouattara, whose November 28 poll victory against incumbent president Gbagbo has been recognised by the international community.

Battles between Gbagbo's forces and Ouattara supporters on Thursday left up to 30 people dead.

"The situation remains tense as neither the president-elect nor the incumbent president want to relinquish power and the market is on alert for any escalation of violence from supporters of either camp," said Macquarie analyst Kona Haque.

By Friday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, cocoa for March rose to 1,975 pounds a tonne from 1,924 pounds a week earlier.

On the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT), cocoa for delivery in March climbed to 2,965 dollars a tonne from 2,924 dollars.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices retreated, one week after striking a record high

"Bullion prices, as do markets as a whole, remain in a mixed and choppy mood as traders and investors continue to readjust their expectations and positions ahead of the Christmas and New Year period," said analyst James Moore at

Gold, seen as a safe-haven investment in times of economic uncertainty, had soared to a record high of 1,431.25 dollars an ounce thanks to market concerns over the eurozone debt and deficit crisis.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold fell to 1,368.50 dollars an ounce at the late fixing from 1,375.25 dollars a week earlier.

Silver dipped to 28.78 dollars an ounce from 28.79 dollars.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum rose to 1,696 dollars an ounce from 1,673 dollars.

Palladium edged up to 738 dollars an ounce from 737 dollars.

OIL: Oil prices were mixed as the market reacted to OPEC's decision to maintain output levels, movements in the dollar and an alarming drop in US crude inventories.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to leave production quotas unchanged at a meeting in Ecuador's capital Quito, stressing looming "risks to the fragile global economic recovery."

The 12-nation group said in a statement that the economic growth that had recently pushed oil to two-year highs above 92 dollars a barrel was likely to slow next year.

That, and the challenges to the world's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, "would negatively impact on oil demand," it said.

"An interesting aspect of the OPEC meeting were various statements on prices, showing that hawkish OPEC members such as Iran, Libya, Venezuela and Angola have no problem with (oil at) 100 dollars," noted analysts at JBC Energy Research.

"Some OPEC members may ask for higher prices, ignoring how fragile the global economy still is," they added.

Prices briefly dropped mid-week as the dollar rallied strongly against the euro, with the single currency was spooked by news that Moody's rating agency had placed Spain on review for a possible downgrade.

A stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for buyers holding other currencies, denting demand.

Crude futures quickly rebounded however as official data showed US crude stockpiles fell last week by the biggest amount in eight years as freezing temperatures in the US northeast pushed up demand for heating fuel.

The US Department of Energy said that crude inventories shed 9.9 million barrels in the week to December 10.

"It's a huge draw (fall) and it caught the market off guard," said Stephen Schork, head of energy-advisory firm the Schork Report.

By late Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February stood at 91.78 dollars a barrel compared with 91.40 dollars for the January contract a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, Texas light sweet crude for January fell to 88.01 dollars a barrel from 88.88 dollars.

COFFEE: Coffee prices rallied, hitting a 13-year high in New York, on tight supply fears.

Macquarie analyst Kona Haque noted the "continued quality and supply concerns of coffee coming out of Colombia and Central America."

By Friday on NYBOT, Arabica for delivery March increased to a 13-year high of 225.45 cents a pound from 203.75 cents the previous week.

On LIFFE, Robusta for March grew to a five-week high of 2,013 dollars a tonne from 1,895 dollars.

GRAINS AND SOYA: Soya and maize prices rose, while wheat futures fell.

By Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade, January-dated soyabean meal -- used in animal feed -- climbed to 12.91 dollars a bushel from 12.73 dollars the previous week.

Maize for delivery in March gained to 5.93 dollars a bushel from 5.74 dollars.

Wheat for March dropped to 7.49 dollars from 7.75 dollars.

SUGAR: Sugar futures rebounded.

By Friday on NYBOT, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in March advanced to 31.56 US cents a pound compared with 28.44 cents for the March contract a week earlier.

On LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for March grew to 778.90 pounds from 726.50 pounds.


© 2010 AFP

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