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GOLD RISES NEARLY 4-WEEK HIGH

Gold rose to the highest in nearly four weeks on Wednesday as the dollar edged back from a 14-year peak and physical demand from major consumers China and India increased.

Spot gold climbed to its highest since December 9 at $1,167.83 an ounce and was up 0.2 percent at $1,161.2 by 2:49 p.m. EST (1949 GMT). US gold futures settled up 0.3 percent at $1,165.30. The dollar index has consolidated and the big outflow from exchange-traded products (ETPs), which has been the biggest headwind for gold in the past few months, has stopped recently.

OIL CLIMBS AMID EXPECTED DRAW IN US CRUDE INVENTORIES, OPEC MEETING

Oil prices rose nearly 2 percent on Wednesday on expectations U.S. crude inventories have dropped and on signs that the world’s top oil exporters will stick to agreed output cuts that took effect this week.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures LCOc1 rose 99 cents, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $56.46 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures CLc1 gained 93 cents to end at $53.26 a barrel, also a 1.8 percent gain.

An OPEC committee meeting to monitor compliance with the agreement is scheduled for Jan. 21-22 in Vienna.

In post-settlement trade, crude rose slightly after industry group the American Petroleum Institute reported that crude stockpiles fell 7.4 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 30.

The market continues to try to consolidate below 12-month highs, said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy.

OPEC member Kuwait also lifted expectations that producers will comply with a deal to reduce oversupply after its state-owned oil producer said on Wednesday it would cut output in the first quarter.

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in November agreed their first output cut since 2008 in an attempt to stabilize oil prices.

As part of the deal, Kuwait has to reduce output by 131,000 barrels per day.

SOYBEAN FUTURES RALLY ON BARGAIN BUYING

US soybean futures rose 1.4 percent on Wednesday on a round of bargain buying following three straight days of declines that pushed the benchmark contract to its lowest since mid-November.

Corn futures also rose, on track to extend their three-session winning streak as investors staked out positions ahead of annual rebalancing by commodity index funds.

Wheat firmed on support from worsening crop conditions. An easing in the dollar, after Tuesday’s 14-year high, lent additional support as it makes US commodities cheaper for overseas buyers.

Day earlier, the most active soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade dropped 0.1 percent to $9.94 a bushel, near the session low of $9.93 a bushel, which was the weakest since December. 27. Soybeans closed down 0.9 percent on Tuesday. The most active corn futures rose 0.14 percent to $3.55-1/4 a bushel, having gained 1 percent in the previous session when prices hit their strongest since December 16 at $3.58-1/2 a bushel.

Speculators stepped in to pull soybeans higher despite expectations of huge crops in key exporters Brazil and Argentina.

 

HIGH EDIBLE OIL IMPORTS REMAIN ALARMING

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) has failed to make a policy to lower the edible oil imports that have increased to $2.7 billion per annum out of the total annual food import bill of $4 billion.

It is said that the MNFSR after devolution has completely ignored the important subject of edible oil crops under influence of the ghee and edible oil mill owners. The subject was ignored as local manufacturers prefer importing cheap palm oil for blending. There is no check on imports as well as on quality.

POLICY RISK COMES TO THE FORE AS SUGAR RATES FIRM UP

The sugar industry wants the government to look beyond higher sugar prices and acknowledge the strain they face on the balance-sheet front due to past losses and accumulated debt.

An Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) release said that the industry has asked the government for sops on debt restructuring, rescheduling of loan repayments and extending interest subvention for 3 years. In addition, for by-product ethanol, they have asked for a higher procurement price and restoring an excise duty waiver.

ZIMBABWEA’S MILK PRODUCTION GROWING

The country’s milk production is on the rise despite the devastating drought which left more than 5.5 million people in need of food aid.

Official government figures show that Zimbabwe’s milk output from January to September 2016 stood at 48.6 million litres, 14.2 percent higher than the 42.6 million litres produced during the same period in 2015.

On a quarterly basis, milk output increased by 5.5 percent to 16.8 million litres from July 2016 to September 2016, following a 0.13 percent decline in the previous quarter.

CHINA STEPS UP ATTEMPTS TO CUT COAL CAPACITY

China, the world’s largest coal consumer and producer, is not giving up on its long-term plans of reducing the share of coal in its overall energy mix and consequent smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite reversing in November some of the restrictions imposed to local coal miners in early 2016 due to a spike in prices for the commodity, Beijing announced late last week it will continue to cut the capacity of its coal mines by 800 million tones a year until 2020.

Unveiling the plan’s details, the country’s top economic planner said the goal is to eliminate “outdated” and inefficient coal capacity every year while adding 500m tones of “advanced” capacity.

RAWANDA FARMERS PUSH FOR AFFORDABLE IRISH POTATO SEEDS

The soaring prices of Irish potato seeds has left smallholder farmers lamenting, triggering efforts by different stakeholders to a seek remedy.

The prices for seeds, now between Rwf600 and Rwf700, are soaring at the time when farmers are getting little from the produce, with the farm price for a kilogramme of Irish potato now down to between Rwf110 and 110, according to farmers from Northern and Western provinces — the region where the crop is predominantly grown. Although improved seeds produced by Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) are sold at between Rwf300 and Rwf320, it reaches farmers at twice the price, a situation that has been attributed to the shortage of the seeds.

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