Commodity prices mostly retreated this week as traders sought safety in the midst of more bleak outlooks for the global economy.
Sentiment was downbeat after the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on Wednesday trimmed its world economic growth forecast for 2013 to 3.1% from 3.4%.
The OECD, representing industrialised nations, slashed its growth forecast for the world’s most advanced economies, except Japan, but said growth should pick up later this year.
Adding to the pressure on demand of raw materials was news this week from the International Monetary Fund that it has cut its 2013 growth forecast for China to close to 7.75%, citing a sluggish global recovery which has hurt exports.
The IMF had previously predicted growth of 8% in the world’s second-biggest economy this year.
Added to the mix, the eurozone unemployment rate hit a fresh record high level of 12.2% in April, with 19.2mn people on the dole as recession continued to sap the economy.
The Eurostat data agency said on Friday that in the 12 months to April, a total 1.6mn people lost their jobs in the 17-nation eurozone, and an extra 95,000 people joined unemployment queues in the month alone from March to April this year.
In the US, official data released this week has shown that new claims for unemployment insurance benefits unexpectedly rose last week, by 10,000, and pending home sales edged up 0.3% in April, when 1.5% was forecast.
The US government’s revised estimate of first-quarter economic growth, meanwhile, came in barely changed at 2.4%. Analysts had expected that it would hold unchanged at 2.5%.
OIL: World oil prices dropped as traders reacted to more news of economic strains, while taking Opec’s expected decision to maintain its output ceiling in their stride.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Friday decided at a meeting in Vienna to hold its output ceiling steady, avoiding a cut which would have risked higher oil prices at a time of weak global demand growth and fragile economic recovery.
Opec, which pumps out about 35% of global oil supplies, said it would leave the cartel’s output ceiling at 30mn barrels per day, where it has stood since late 2011, despite actual output slightly exceeding the target.
Official data on Thursday, meanwhile, showed US stockpiles hitting an all-time high level.
Crude stockpiles jumped by three million barrels in the week ended May 24 to 397.6mn barrels, striking a record peak since the start of the weekly data in 1982, the Department of Energy reported.
The supplies also were the highest since May 1931, according to the department’s monthly inventories reports.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in July dropped to $101.06 a barrel from $102.27 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for July slipped to $92.67 a barrel from $93.91 a week earlier.
PRECIOUS METALS: Prices rose across the board.
“Precious metal markets look well set to post a second week of gains after speculation that the Fed will maintain bond purchases increased demand for gold and silver markets as an inflationary hedge, with a weaker greenback also helping dollar denominated asset,” said Nicky Dale-Lace, senior sales trader at CMC Markets.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to $1,394.50 an ounce from $1,390.25 a week earlier.
Silver climbed to $22.57 an ounce from $22.38.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum inched higher to $1,459 an ounce from $1,455.
Palladium grew to $744 an ounce from $729.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metal prices were mixed, as traders tracked global economic uncertainty as well as strike action at a copper and gold mine in Indonesia.
“The downgrade to China’s growth forecast by the IMF… seems to have set the weaker tone” for some metals, said William Adams, analyst at research group Fast Markets.
Thousands of workers at a US-owned mine in eastern Indonesia are meanwhile refusing to return to work until investigations into one of the country’s worst mining accidents are completed, a union said Friday.
Freeport-McMoRan resumed some operations Tuesday at its Grasberg gold and copper mine in Papua province after an almost two-week shutdown caused by a tunnel collapse that killed 28 workers. Ten others were rescued.
“It seems that the (parts of the base metals) complex are staging modest rallies mainly on the back of a weaker dollar and Grasberg-related headlines, only for prices to get smacked down when poor macro headlines surface,” said Ed Meir, analyst at financial services group INTL FCStone.
“We will be getting a number of reports out of China over the weekend and going into next week that should provide the London Metal Exchange group more direction,” he added.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months fell to $7,270 a tonne from $7,315.75 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminium rose to $1,902 a tonne from $1,854.50.
Three-month lead climbed to $2,183 a tonne from $2,055.75.
Three-month tin retreated to $20,900 a tonne from $21,200.
Three-month nickel decreased to $14,670 a tonne from $14,910.
Three-month zinc increased to $1,912 a tonne from $1,861.75.
COCOA: Futures retreated in trading on both sides of the Atlantic despite the International Cocoa Organisation (Icco) hiking its forecast for cocoa’s global deficit.
The Icco is predicting a deficit of 60,000 tonnes for the 2012/13 season closing in September, up from its previous estimate of 45,000.
By Friday on Liffe, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in July slipped to £1,502 a tonne from £1,528 a week earlier.
On New York’s Nybot-Ice exchange, cocoa for July dropped to $2,210 a tonne from $2,267.
COFFEE: Prices slid on expectations of high supplies.
“There appears to be no limit to how far the price of Arabica can fall at the moment. The very high Brazilian harvest and forecasts of a renewed surplus on the international coffee market in the 2013/14 season are weighing on prices,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note to clients.
By Friday on Nybot-Ice, Arabica for delivery in July slid to 126.65¢ a pound from 130.40¢ a week earlier.
On Liffe, Robusta for July dropped to $1,892 a tonne from $1,978.
SUGAR: Prices diverged after recent three-year lows caused by significant surplus expectations.
“News of another big production period in the first half of May in Brazil was negative” for prices, said Jack Scoville, analyst at traders Price Futures Group.
By Friday on Nybot-Ice, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in July slipped to 16.72¢ a pound from 16.79¢ a week earlier.
On Liffe, the price of a tonne of white sugar for August grew to $479.80 from $475.50.
Source: Caye Global News, Gulf Times
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