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Sunday, March 15, 2015, Chaitra 1, 1421 BS, Jamadi ul Awwal 23, 1436 Hijr
Commodities mostly drop on soaring dollar, China woes
Published : Sunday, 15 March, 2015, Time : 12:00 AM, View Count : 8
LONDON, March 14: Many commodities fell this week as the dollar struck a 12-year peak against the euro, with sentiment hit also by weak data in key consumer China.
"Most commodity prices fell further this week, undermined by the continued strength of the US currency and soft economic data from China," said Capital Economics analyst Julian Jessop.
The European single currency sank on Friday to $1.0466 -- the lowest level since January 2003 -- on expectations of a US rate hike later this year.
The euro edged closer to dollar parity after the European Central Bank began its quantitative easing stimulus on Monday.
A surging greenback makes commodities priced in the US unit more expensive for holders of other currencies.
OIL: World oil prices fell sharply as traders focused on the strong dollar, while record-high US crude stockpiles added to the global supply glut.
"Dollar strength has been a big driver of commodity weakness this week," said analyst Craig Erlam at trading firm Oanda.
"Of course, the oversupply story in oil markets is keeping prices low but a stronger dollar just exacerbates any weakness. "With the dollar expected to be one of, if not the, strongest performer this year, the downside risks to commodities remain much higher than to the upside."
The market won limited support on the back of unrest in oil producer Iraq, where thousands of Iraqi troops and militiamen are battling jihadist fighters.
The US Department of Energy reported that crude oil inventories surged by 4.5 million barrels in the week of March 6 to 448.9 million. That was the highest level since the beginning of the weekly data series in 1982.
Crude futures sank further on Friday after the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned over the price outlook amid bulging global supplies.
The oil market collapsed by about 60 per cent between June and late January due to oversupply in world markets, a weak global economy and the rising dollar.
Prices have since rebounded somewhat following a slowdown in US oil-drilling activities.
"Behind the facade of stability, the rebalancing triggered by the price collapse has yet to run its course, and it might be overly optimistic to expect it to proceed smoothly," the Paris-based IEA said.
By Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April slid to $55.99 a barrel from $60.10 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for April dived to $45.28 a barrel from $48.94 a week earlier.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold forged its lowest level since December, at $1,147.69 per ounce, on dollar strength.
"The main driver behind the weakness and the move into oversold territory has been the relentless rally of the dollar," said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen.
By Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold fell to $1,152 an ounce from $1,175.75 a week earlier.
Silver slid to $15.50 an ounce from $15.99. On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum slipped to $1,115 an ounce from $1,166. Palladium fell to $791 from $823 an ounce.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals mainly fell after a stream of weak economic data from China, which is a major consumer of raw materials.
However, copper rose on "speculation that China will loosen its lending policies to increase the flow of credit," said analyst Alastair McCaig at trading firm IG.
Chinese output, retail and investment growth have all fallen to multi-year lows, official data showed Wednesday, the latest anaemic indicators to raise expectations of more government support for the world's second-largest economy.
Industrial production, which measures output at China's factories,workshops and mines, rose 6.8 per cent year-on-year in January and February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
That was the lowest for six years, since a reading of 5.7 per cent in December 2008, and fell short of a median forecast for growth of 7.7 per cent in a survey of economists by Bloomberg News.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months climbed to $5,837 a tonne from $5,747.50 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminium slipped to $1,754.50 per tonne from $1,795.
Three-month lead reversed to $1,790.50 a tonne from $1,806.
Three-month tin dipped to $17,425 a tonne from $18,090.
Three-month nickel decreased to $13,880 a tonne from $14,310.
Three-month zinc retreated to $2,011.50 a tonne from $2,016.
COCOA: The market touched one-month lows on the back of the rebounding greenback. "Prices were lower in reaction to continued strength in the US dollar," said Price Futures Group analyst Jack Scoville. By Friday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in May declined to £1,994 a tonne compared with £2,037 a week earlier. On ICE Futures, cocoa for May recoiled to $2,839 a tonne from $2,978 the previous week.
COFFEE: Futures also fell on the back of the falling real currency in coffee's biggest producer Brazil. "Price weakness in soft commodities such as sugar and coffee has been driven by the slump in the Brazilian real, together with improved growth prospects," said Saxobank's Ole Hansen.
By Friday on the ICE Futures US exchange, Arabica for delivery in May slid to 132.30 US cents a pound from 134.45 cents a week earlier.
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