LONDON – Oil faced a rollercoaster week, striking five-month peaks on news of an unexpected slump in US crude reserves, before sliding as oversupply worries resurfaced, AFP reports. “After a strong start to the week, with Brent seemingly heading for $70 per barrel, the recovery in oil prices ran out of steam by Friday,” said Capital Economics analyst Julian Jessop. Heading into the weekend, markets tracked the US interest rate outlook after a bright non-farm payrolls (NFP) report in major commodity consumer the United States.
Traders warned that the Greek financial crisis had the potential to flare up and boost gold, which is seen as a safe bet in times of economic turmoil. “The only major event scheduled for the coming week is yet another meeting of the Eurogroup of finance ministers to discuss Greece on Monday,” Jessop added. “We remain convinced that the Greek crisis will escalate at some point,boosting gold prices, but the precise timing is as uncertain as ever.”
— Volatility grips oil market —
OIL: Prices soared Wednesday on news of a shock tumble in US crude stockpiles, with Brent striking $69.63 and WTI reaching $62.58 per barrel –the highest levels so far this year. The latest official US stockpiles report showed crude reserves tumbled 3.9 million barrels in the week to May 1, the first decline in 16 weeks. The outcome confounded market expectations for an increase of 1.5 million barrels.
Despite the decline, however, at 487.0 million barrels of crude, the stockpiles were at their highest level on record for this time of year. And US crude-oil production slipped only marginally to 9.4 million barrels per day. “There’s been volatility coming into the crude market in the past few days and concerns about rising crude supply is one of the reasons,” IG analyst Bernard Aw told AFP. “The market has become sensitive to data about supply… On one hand some are seeing supply as slowing, but the numbers are not showing that.”
The market also declined Friday on worries over rebounding US shale output. Oil prices have in recent weeks also won support due to ongoing strife in Yemen and Libya. However, prices remain well down after plunging almost 60 percent between June and the start of 2015 on the back of a global supply glut. The problem was exacerbated when the OPEC cartel — which pumps 30 percent of global crude — maintained output levels late last year.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June dipped to $64.74 a barrel from $66.19 the previous week. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for June slid to $58.70 compared with $59.12. PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices edged higher as dealers digested the US
payrolls numbers and the Federal Reserve’s outlook for interest rates. The dollar rebounded slightly Friday after the Labor Department reported the US economy added 223,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate fell to a seven-year low.
However, the monthly jobs report was roughly in line with expectations after March’s sharp fall in job creation. The jobless rate dipped 0.1 percentage point to 5.4 percent. Analysts said the report, while solid, was likely not strong enough to hasten higher interest rates from the Fed. “Although the dollar is currently pressuring major currencies, the Federal Reserve will continue to adopt a slow approach to normalizing monetary policy and I would say this is the major reason why gold is actually trading higher following the NFP,” said analyst Jameel Ahmad at traders FXTM.
By Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold advanced to $1,186 an ounce from $1,175.95 the previous week. Silver firmed to $16.31 an ounce from $16.17. On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum rose to $1,140 an ounce from $1,127. Palladium increased to $798 an ounce from $772. BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals rose on the weak dollar, but the rally fizzled out on concerns over China’s economic slowdown.
“The base metals have been the main movers lately, rallying strongly,” said UniCredit analysts in a note to clients. “Currency markets … have been the important driving force. Better
economic data out of Europe combined with softer data from the US has seen the dollar retreat.” The European single currency had jumped Thursday to a 2.5-month peak of $1.1392, before trimming gains on Friday. A weaker greenback makes dollar-priced commodities cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies. That tends to stimulate demand and price levels.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months climbed to $6,389 a tonne from $6,343 the previous week. Three-month aluminium dipped to $1,899 a tonne from $1,908. Three-month lead decreased to $2,067.50 a tonne from $2,114.50. Three-month tin declined to $16,025 a tonne from $16,050. Three-month nickel increased to $14,180 a tonne from $13,780. Three-month zinc rose to $2,365 a tonne from $2,324.
— Brazil hits coffee, sugar —
COFFEE: Prices weakened on predictions of abundant output from Brazil. “Recent upbeat forecasts for Brazil’s coffee harvest have put downward pressure on arabica futures prices,” added Capital Economics analyst Caroline Bain. By Friday on ICE Futures, Arabica for delivery in July fell to 135.95 US cents a pound from 137.30 cents the previous week.
On LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, Robusta for July dipped to $1,753 a tonne from $1,792.
SUGAR: Prices turned sour as traders also eyed the prospect of plentiful supplies from Brazil. “Prices are still in a trading range and the market needs a good reason to rally in a big way,” said Price Futures Group analyst Jake Scoville. “Brazil has a very good sugarcane crop… The harvest started a little early as good conditions were seen, and has continued with only minor interruptions due to rains.”
By Friday on LIFFE, a tonne of white sugar for delivery in August fell to $373.60 from $377.20 a week earlier.
On ICE Futures US, unrefined sugar for July decreased to 12.96 US cents a pound from 13.16 US cents.
COCOA: Prices hit two-month peaks, supported by production worries in key producer Ghana, before ending the week on a mixed note.
“Concerns about Ghana’s cocoa harvest has seen a surge in the price of cocoa,” said analyst Bain. The market rallied as high as £2,028 in London and $2,967 in New York. By Friday on LIFFE, cocoa for delivery in July had eased to £2,008 a tonne from £2,010 the previous week. On the ICE Futures US exchange, cocoa for July increased to $2,959 a tonne from $2,938.
RUBBER: Prices gained ground on keen demand from consuming countries,
The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 on Friday firmed to 150.20 US cents a kilo from 145.35 US cents last Thursday.