Global commodities traded with mixed results this week, with oil dented by record-high US crude reserves and the strong dollar, while investors braced for the results of a two-day finance meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) highly industrialised economies.
Some commodities gained ground after positive economic data out of the United States and Germany, which also helped push the US and Frankfurt stock markets to record peaks. G7 finance ministers and central bank chiefs began talks on Friday on spurring growth, with currency factors likely to feature after the dollar spiked to a four-year high against the yen.
On Thursday, the dollar vaulted past the key 100-yen barrier, as Tokyo’s aggressive stimulus efforts to lift the Japanese economy continued to depress its currency. The dollar rallied to $101.98 yen on Friday, with sentiment driven also by upbeat US jobs data. The strong greenback makes dollar-priced raw materials more expensive for buyers using cheaper currencies.
OIL: Prices tumbled to one-week lows on Friday, with Brent hitting $101.56 per barrel and New York crude touching $93.37. “Crude oil plunged today,” said GFT Markets analyst Fawad Razaqzada. “This is by no means a surprise given the extent of rally we saw over the last three weeks or so, and the fact that production of oil is rising while demand remains weak.
“Although we didn’t have a lot of economic data to provide fresh clues on demand, we already knew that crude stockpiles are near record highs and so it was almost inevitable we would see such a vicious sell-off.” The US government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed Wednesday that American crude stocks rose to 395.5 million barrels in the week ending May 3. That was their highest level since 1982, when the weekly report began, indicating that production was outstripping demand and putting downward pressure on prices.
US inventories are a vital focus for traders because the United States is the world’s biggest economy and its largest oil-consuming nation. Prices recoiled further on Friday as profit-taking also set in. “Brent crude oil retreated sharply on Friday … due to some profit taking, as investors try to remain cautious ahead of the release of the US federal budget details and the G7 meeting,” said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.
Meanwhile on Friday, Opec said it still expected global oil demand to inch higher in 2013 despite a weaker-than-expected first quarter and concerns about growth in China and the 17-nation eurozone. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for around 35 percent of global crude output, forecast total average oil demand of 89.7 million barrels per day, up 0.8 mbpd from 2012, unchanged from its pervious projection.
“A fragile recovery in the global economy has been visible since the beginning of the year, but momentum has started slowing again and growth risks are skewed to the downside,” the cartel said. By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June steadied to $102.42 per barrel compared with $102.35 a week earlier. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for June slid to $94.25 a barrel from $95.83.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold prices pulled lower as stock markets scaled record peaks in Frankfurt and New York. “Demand for gold as a safe haven is currently lower amid sharply rising equity markets, both the DAX and the Dow Jones (indices) hitting new record highs,” noted Commerzbank analysts.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold eased to $1,426.50 an ounce from $1,469.25 a week earlier. Silver decreased to $23.37 an ounce from $24.25. On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum dropped to $1,490 an ounce from $1,501. Palladium advanced to $702 an ounce from $694.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metal prices enjoyed mixed fortunes as traders balanced solid Chinese demand against the impact of the strong dollar. “Amid choppy trading, metals have been unable this week to build durably on last Friday’s remarkable turnaround, and half of them are ending the week well down,” said BNP Paribas analysts.
“Economic data have mostly been more positive in recent days but metals have been hit by dollar strength.” By Friday on the London Metal Exchange (LME), copper for delivery in three months jumped to $7,375 a tonne from $7,267 a week earlier.
—- Three-month aluminium edged down to $1,870 a tonne from $1,878.
—- Three-month lead eased to $1,996 a tonne from $2,023.
—- Three-month tin rose to $20,775 a tonne from $20,170.
—- Three-month nickel rose to $15,415 a tonne from $15,080.
—- Three-month zinc edged down to $1,865 a tonne from $1,882.
COCOA: Cocoa futures recoiled on profit-taking amid concerns over the global outlook. “Yet another round of global economic jitters played negatively into cocoa market sentiment this week,” noted analysts at industry publication the Public Ledger. By Friday on Liffe, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in July fell to £1,536 a tonne from £1,577 a week earlier. On New York’s NYBOT-ICE exchange, cocoa for July slid to $2,325 a tonne from $2,418.
COFFEE: The market extended gains from the previous week. “There has not been any significant change in coffee’s fundamental picture, as the supply situation remains comfortable,” noted Edward Meir at brokerage INTL FCStone. By Friday on NYBOT-ICE, Arabica for delivery in July climbed to 147.15 US cents a pound from 138.45 cents a week earlier. On Liffe, Robusta for July rose to $2,039 a tonne from $2,016.
SUGAR: Prices fell in London, weighed down by the prospect of surpluses in key producing nations. “The story in sugar has not changed for some time now; the complex has been unable to shrug off the shadow of massive surpluses hanging over the markets thanks to bumper crops coming from Brazil and higher-than-expected output also due from Thailand and India,” said Meir. But by Friday on NYBOT-ICE, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in July firmed to 17.58 US cents a pound from 17.48 cents a week earlier. On Liffe, the price of a tonne of white sugar for August dipped to $488.30 from $497.90.
RUBBER: Prices advanced on strong Chinese trade data. The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 rose to 261.35 US cents a kilo from 248.10 cents the previous week.