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Commodity prices sink

May 05, 2012


LONDON, May 5: Most commodity prices sank this week as traders took their cue from weak global data, particularly after Friday’s disappointing payrolls report in major consumer the United States.

Many commodity markets were somewhat subdued this week amid public holidays in parts of Asia, including China and Japan.

OIL: World oil prices nosedived on Friday, hitting three-month lows as the weak US payrolls report sparked fresh concern over energy demand in the world’s biggest crude consuming nation.

Brent North Sea crude tumbled as low as $111.76 per barrel in afternoon trade, hitting the lowest point since February 2. New York’s light sweet crude sank to $97.83 a barrel, striking a level last seen on February 10.

“There has been no let up in today’s crude sell-off,” GFT analyst David Morrison told AFP. “This afternoon’s dismal non-farm payroll report has added to fears that the US recovery has stalled. Investors are relying on further central bank intervention to help boost demand.

“But with six weeks until the next Federal Reserve meeting, the fear is that investors will head out of ‘risk assets’ until central banks indicate their willingness to loosen monetary policy further.”

Crude prices had ticked lower Monday as investors fretted over Spain’s double-dip recession and deepening fears that the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy might be the next to need a massive bailout.

The market then surged in New York on Tuesday after stronger-than-expected industrial data in the US and China, which are the world’s top energy consumers.

However, prices pulled back by the middle of the week after official data showed a bigger-than-expected rise in US crude oil stockpiles and a slowdown in American hiring, sparking concerns about the economy.

Oil prices slumped further on Thursday following more downbeat eurozone economic figures and after news of a slowdown in the all-important services sector of the US economy during April.

An indication by the Organisation of the Pet-roleum Exporting Coun-tries (Opec) that it wanted to scale prices down to sustainable levels was also bearing down on the market.

By late Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June tumbled to $112.27 a barrel from $119.20 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercan-tile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for June slid to $98.25 from $104.23.

PRECIOUS METALS: Pri-ces fell across the board in quiet trading conditions.

“Physical demand for gold remains soft as... China and Japan went on holiday for most of the week,” said Barclays Capital analysts.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold declined to $1,643.75 an ounce from $1,663.50 a week earlier.

Silver slid to $29.90 an ounce from $31.14.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum decreased to $1,530 an ounce from $1,573.

Palladium fell to $663 an ounce from $677.

BASE METALS: Prices also declined on mounting fears of an economic slowdown.

“Ongoing concerns about slowing EU, Chinese, and to a lesser extent, US growth, all weighed on the market,” said analyst Ed Meir at brokerage INTL FCStone.

“In fact, for some time now, metals have been trading in lacklustre fashion, unable to get anything meaningful going on the upside given the increasingly dour set of macro statistics that have been coming through.” By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell to $8,173 a ton from $8,408 a week earlier. Three-month aluminium declined to $2,074 a ton from $2,106. Three-month lead dipped to $2,089 a ton from $2,137. Three-month tin slid to $21,575 a ton from $22,451.

Three-month nickel drop-ped to $17,456 a ton from $18,362. Three-month zinc sank to $1,991 a ton from $2,042.

COCOA: Cocoa futures gained ground as the market remained supported by tight supplies. By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in July rose to £1,542 a tonne from ¤£1,512 a week earlier.

In New York on the NYBOT-ICE, cocoa for July gained to $2,314 a ton compared with $2,283.

COFFEE: Coffee prices diverged in nervous trading conditions.

By Friday on NYBOT-ICE, Arabica for delivery in July firmed to 177.05 US cents a pound from 176.05 cents a week earlier.

On LIFFE, Robusta for delivery in July eased to $2,006 a ton from $2,007.

SUGAR: Sugar futures continued their decline, weighed down by the prospect of a large global surplus.

Last week, the Internat-ional Sugar Organisation forecast a worldwide surplus of more than 6.0 million tons for the 2011-12 season, up from a previous estimate of 5.17 million tons. By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a ton of white sugar for delivery in August dropped to $568 from $572.80 a week earlier.

On NYBOT-ICE, the price of unrefined sugar for July fell to 20.93 US cents a pound from 21.05 cents.—AFP