Commodity markets buoyed by mounting Ukraine crisis

August 31, 2014 – AFP –



Crude oil and wheat prices were lifted this week by intensifying concerns over the Ukraine crisis, while gold advanced as many investors sought shelter from geopolitical tensions. Many commodities also rose on bright economic growth data in the United States, a top consumer of many raw materials including crude oil. The country’s economy expanded at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter, up from the prior growth estimate of 4.0 percent, official data showed.

OIL: Global oil prices climbed this week, supported by renewed Russia-Ukraine tensions and stronger-than-expected US economic growth, analysts said. The market also gained ground this week on the back of elevated supply risks linked to simmering tensions in oil producers Iraq and Libya. However, gains were capped by abundant crude oil supplies.

“The week started with… elevated risks to oil supply with rising tensions in Libya and Russia,” said analyst Rebecca Hermolle at energy consultancy Inenco. “On Thursday, prices tipped above $103 as tensions heightened between Russia and Ukraine, but prices quickly fell back down.

“Ample global supply, and low demand from Europe and China, seem to be outweighing risks from geopolitical crises. Supply remains strong from Iraq despite the conflict in the Middle East.” Ukraine and the West said on Thursday that Russian troops are actively involved in supporting pro-Kremlin separatists who have been fighting against Kiev’s rule since April. Nato said at least 1,000 Russian troops were on the ground in east Ukraine but Moscow insisted none of its soldiers were in the country.

The United States warned it was considering new sanctions against Russia over the latest development. The stand-off between the neighbours, seen as the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War, has sparked fears of a full-fledged conflict. Such a development could cause energy prices to surge as Russia is the world’s number-two oil producer, and Ukraine is a key conduit for Moscow’s gas exports to Europe. By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October rose to $102.89 a barrel from $102.15 one week earlier. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for October stood at $95.40 per barrel compared with $93.11.

GRAINS AND SOYA: Wheat hit a three-week peak Thursday, partly on the back on tensions between key exporters Ukraine and Russia. “The further escalation of the Ukraine-Russia conflict drove the wheat price on the CBOT to a three-week high of $5.79 per bushel,” wrote Commerzbank analysts in a note.

“Russia and Ukraine combined account for a fifth of worldwide wheat exports, so any disruption to the supply of wheat from this region would noticeably increase the demand for wheat from the US and the EU.” By Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), November-dated soybean fell to $10.24 per bushel from $10.42 a week earlier. Maize for delivery in December slid to $3.67 a bushel from $3.71. Wheat for December rose to $5.73 per bushel from $5.62.

PRECIOUS METALS: The price of gold hit a one-week high at $1,296.65 per ounce on haven demand, dragging sister metal silver to a two-week peak of $19.90. “In view of the further escalation of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, precious metals were in demand as safe havens,” noted Commerzbank analysts. “The gold price reacted by climbing for a time to nearly $1,300 per troy ounce, while palladium temporarily exceeded the $900 mark.”

By Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to $1,285.75 per ounce from $1,277.25 a week earlier. Silver eased to $19.47 an ounce from $19.49. On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum gained to $1,424 per ounce from $1,416. Palladium climbed to $898 an ounce from $883.

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metal prices mainly sank as market participants also fretted over the impact of the Ukraine crisis. By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months slid to $6,960 a tonne from $7,058 a week earlier.

— Three-month aluminium climbed to $2,101 per tonne from $2,064.

— Three-month lead dipped to $2,245 a tonne from $2,254.

— Three-month tin dropped to $21,877 a tonne from $22,225.

— Three-month nickel decreased to $18,565 per tonne from $18,832.

— Three-month zinc fell to $2,349 a tonne from $2,359.75.

COCOA: Prices scored to another three-year pinnacle in New York, lifted by solid global demand for the commodity that is mainly used to make chocolate. New York cocoa futures to $3,300 per tonne on Wednesday, reaching the highest level since May 2011. By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in December rose to £2,037 a tonne compared with £2,028 a week earlier. On the ICE Futures US exchange, cocoa for December advanced to $3,234 a tonne from $3,212 a week earlier.

COFFEE: Prices scaled one-month peaks on industry forecasts of a low crop from top producer Brazil. By Friday on ICE Futures US, Arabica for delivery in December rallied to 200.80 US cents a pound compared with 188.55 cents a week earlier. On LIFFE, Robusta for November reached $2,049 per tonne compared with $1,993 a week earlier.

SUGAR: Futures dipped after the International Sugar Organisation (ISO) said it saw no support for higher price levels, and predicted that supply would exceed demand for the fifth successive year. The market was likely to witness a global surplus of 1.3 million metric tonnes for the 2014/2015 crop year, the industry body said.

By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for delivery in October fell to $427.50 from $432.60 a week earlier. On ICE Futures US, the price of unrefined sugar for October inched down to 15.64 US cents a pound from 15.97 US cents a week earlier.

RUBBER: Prices in Kuala Lumpur fell influenced by weak share and oil prices and top rubber producer Thailand’s decision to sell its stockpile. The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 ended at 163.45 US cents per kilo, down from 166.65 cents a week earlier.

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