LONDON, Sept 13, (AFP): Commodity prices dropped this week as the dollar strengthened, with Brent oil sinking to its lowest level in more than two years against a backdrop of solid supplies and sluggish demand. Sugar futures meanwhile touched multi-year lows, weighed down by expectations of a large surplus of supplies.
Oil: Brent oil prices dived to $96.72 on Thursday — touching a low point last seen in 2012 — while WTI hit a 16-month trough at $90.43.
Prices plumbed the latest depths after the International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises on energy policy to industrialised nations, cut its oil demand outlook citing weaker economic growth in Europe and China.
The news followed broadly similar demand forecast downgrades this week from both the US government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The market hit a series of multi-month lows this week on the back of abundant global crude supplies and gloomy demand growth forecasts.
Falling oil prices have sparked market speculation that crude producer group OPEC could call an emergency meeting to halt the slide, a prospect dismissed by cartel member Kuwait.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October had fallen to $97.08 a barrel from $101.29 one week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for October slid to $92.65 per barrel compared with $94.05.
Precious Metals: Gold dropped to an eight-month trough at $1,228.13 an ounce on Friday as traders took their cue from the strong dollar.
That also dragged sister metal silver to $18.46, a level last seen in June 2013. “Gold and silver were seeing continuing declines on recent US dollar strength,” noted Lawler at CMC Markets.
A stronger greenback makes dollar-priced gold and commodities more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies. That tends to dent demand and push prices lower.
By Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold had slipped to $1,231.50 per ounce from $1,266 a week earlier.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum reversed to $1,360 per ounce from $1,406.
Base Metals: Base or industrial metal prices fell across the board, as many traders cashed in recent gains.
“Industrial metals were down more than three percent, almost removing the gains that had built up during the previous four weeks,” said Hansen.
“Nickel and zinc, which up until this week had been two of the strongest performers, ran into profit-taking.
“Nickel in particular came under some selling pressure after speculation of a new threat of supply disruptions from the Philippines failed to materialise.” By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months had fallen to $6,835.75 a tonne from $6,932.75 a week earlier.
Sugar: The market collapsed to four-year lows in New York and five-year troughs in London, pulled sharply lower by an abundance of supplies, dealers said.
London prices fell on Friday to $394 — a low last seen in April 2009. And in New York, prices hit a June 2010 trough of 14.25 US cents.
By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, the price of a tonne of white sugar for delivery in October had fallen to $395.60 from $415.80 a week earlier.
On ICE Futures US exchange, the price of unrefined sugar for October dipped to 14.33 US cents a pound from 15.06 US cents a week earlier.
By Friday on LIFFE, cocoa for delivery in December had dipped to £1,972 a tonne compared with £1,999 a week earlier.
On the ICE Futures US, cocoa for December dropped to $3,038 a tonne from $3,130 a week earlier.
Coffee: Futures fell on the back of heavy selling and weak demand. “Futures traded lower in all markets on... speculator selling and only light demand from roasters,” said analyst Jack Scoville at Price Futures Group. By Friday on ICE Futures US, Arabica for delivery in December had fallen to 184.50 US cents a pound compared with 200.50 cents a week earlier. On LIFFE, Robusta for November reached $1,988 per tonne compared with $2,086 a week earlier.
Rubber: Prices in Kuala Lumpur sank further on concerns over persistent weak demand from top buyer China and a supply glut following top producer Thailand’s stockpile sell-off. The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 ended at 152.15 US cent a kilo, down from 161.45 cents a week earlier.