Commodity prices rise despite poor US, Chinese data

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gsr-74853Oil and metals prices rose this week but gains were capped by poorly-received data out of the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies.

Coffee and sugar futures jumped as exceptionally dry Brazilian weather raised concerns over tight supplies, while cocoa hit new peaks on deficit fears.

Traders on Friday reacted with disappointment to data showing that the US economy added 113,000 jobs in January, far fewer than market expectations of 175,000.

The outcome signalled continuing weakness in the world’s biggest economy, which is also a major consumer of many raw materials.

OIL: Crude oil briefly hit the highest level so far this year, propelled by a weaker dollar and strong heating fuel demand in the US, but ended the week just modest gains following the jobless figures.

New York’s benchmark West Texas Intermediate hit $98.83 a barrel on Thursday, a peak for 2014.

“Freezing conditions continue across the States, supporting heating oil demand,” said analyst Lucy Sidebotham at energy consultancy Inenco.

The oil market had risen on Wednesday after a closely-watched US oil inventories report suggested severe winter weather across large parts of the country was fuelling demand.

Distillates, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 2.4 million barrels last week, more than the 2.0 million barrels estimated.

Crude futures had begun the week lower after poorly-received manufacturing data in the United States and China added to market worries about demand in the world’s two biggest oil consumers.

By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March climbed to $108.01 a barrel from $107.18 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for March gained to $98.13 a barrel from $97.84.

Platinum lacks strike support

PRECIOUS METALS: Platinum futures failed to win support this week from strike action in South Africa.

South Africa’s radical worker group AMCU on Thursday said that salary negotiations remained on track two weeks into a massive strike at the country’s platinum mines, contradicting an announcement by producers.

South Africa’s northern platinum belt has been the scene of work-related bloodshed since 34 platinum miners were shot dead by police during a strike at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in August 2012.

Producers say the current stoppages have cost South Africa’s economy $360 million. The country accounts for 80 percent of global platinum production.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold gained to $1,259.25 an ounce from $1,251 a week earlier.

Silver advanced to $19.87 an ounce from $19.31.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum dipped to $1,379 an ounce from $1,382.

Palladium edged up to $711 an ounce from $707.

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals prices climbed on slightly easing concerns over emerging markets, despite poor data from China at the start of the week that temporarily depressed prices.

“The mood amongst market participants remains tense, in part because of the massive currency depreciations in the emerging economies,” said analysts at Commerzbank.

By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to $7,143 a tonne from $7,063 week earlier.

Three-month aluminium climbed to $1,722 a tonne from $1,713.50.

Three-month lead advanced to $2,132 a tonne from $2,108.

Three-month tin gained to $22,160 a tonne from $21,925.

Three-month nickel increased to $14,140 a tonne from $13,750.

Three-month zinc grew to $2,064 a tonne from $1,964.

Coffee, sugar futures surge

COFFEE: The price of coffee surged to the highest levels in months because of extremely dry weather in Brazil which could crimp harvests in the country, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of the commodity.

The price of Arabica quality coffee, accounting for three quarters of Brazilian production, rose to 144.15 US cents a pound in New York, the highest level since last May.

It represented a significant leap since Arabica hit a seven-year low point in November when the price was 100.95 cents.

The price of Robusta, considered to be a poorer quality than Arabica, rose to the highest level for six months at $1,905 a tonne in London.

“The price rally has been driven by one of the hottest and driest summers in living memory in Brazil, where some parts of the country have experienced the lowest rainfall since the 1940s,” Edward George, head of soft commodities research at Ecobank in London, told AFP.

By Friday on the ICE Futures US exchange, Arabica for delivery in March soared to 136.60 US cents a pound from 114.50 cents a week earlier.

On LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, Robusta for March rallied to $1,829 a tonne from $1,700.

SUGAR: Prices hit the highest points this year.

“The global prices of coffee and sugar have surged dramatically over the past few days… almost entirely due to the heatwave and drought currently affecting key growing areas in the south-east of Brazil,” said Thomas Pugh, economist at the Capital Economics consultancy.

“Indeed, the country had the hottest January on record… What’s more, this dry weather is expected to continue over the next few weeks, raising fears that output of these crops could be severely reduced by drought.

“As Brazil produces over a third of global coffee supplies and almost a quarter of the world’s sugar, any disruption to output there could have a significant impact on world markets,” he added.

By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for delivery in March advanced to $432.50 from $404.90 a week earlier.

On New York’s ICE Futures US exchange, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in March grew to 15.68 US cents a pound from 15.05 US cents.

COCOA: Prices continued to hit 2.5-year highs on the prospect of a further production deficit this year.

By Friday on LIFFE, cocoa for delivery in March climbed to £1,850 a tonne from £1,778 a week earlier.

On ICE Futures US, cocoa for March increased to $2,896 a tonne from $2,806.

RUBBER: Prices in Kuala Lumpur extended losses on abundant supply, and as Malaysia’s ringgit currency strengthened against the dollar, making the commodity more expensive.

Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 fell to 186.15 US cents a kilo from 193.20 cents the previous week.
Source: AFP

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