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OIL MARKETS FIRM ON TIGHTER US PRODUCTION, OPEC CUT

Oil prices were firm on Thursday, supported by ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC, tensions in the Middle East and lower production in the United States as a result of hurricane-enforced closures. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $58.25, up 10 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.11 per barrel, up 7 cents, or 0.1 percent. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said late on Wednesday that crude inventories fell by 5.7 million barrels in the week to Oct. 13, to 456.49 million barrels.

US output slumped by 11 percent from the previous week to 8.4 million barrels per day (bpd), its lowest level since June 2014 as numerous rigs had to be shut because of Hurricane Nate, which hit the US Gulf coast earlier in October.

WHEAT EDGES UP, GAINS CAPPED BY AMPLE SUPPLIES

Chicago wheat ticked higher on Thursday as bargain buying after three sessions of decline underpinned prices, although gains were checked by stiff competition in the global export market.

Corn and soybeans firmed after closing lower in the previous session. The Chicago Board of Trade most-active wheat contract gained 0.1 percent to $4.30-1/4 a bushel, having closed down 1 percent on Wednesday when prices hit a low of $4.29 a bushel – the weakest since Oct. 12. Corn rose 0.3 percent to $3.49-1/2 a bushel, having closed down 0.4 percent in the previous session, while soybeans added 0.1 percent to $9.85-1/4 a bushel, having closed marginally lower on Wednesday.

INDIA TIGHTENS GOLD IMPORT NORMS

India tightened gold import norms for export houses by restricting them from importing the yellow metal only for export purposes and not for selling in the domestic market, the government said in a circular on Wednesday.

Some export houses, which account for nearly a quarter of total imports by India, were taking advantage of India’s free trade agreement with neighboring countries and importing the bullion without paying import duty, prompting the government to impose these curbs, analysts said. A few export houses were selling gold at a discount in local market in last few months as they were not paying import duty. India is the world’s second largest gold consumer importing on an average 75 tonnes every month in 2017 before tapering to 48 tonnes in September.

EUROPEAN VEGOILS PRICES LITTLE CHANGED

Crude palm oil prices were little changed in Europe on Wednesday, with a public holiday in Malaysia limiting market participation. Asking prices for Sumatra/Malaysia crude palm oil ranged from unchanged to $2.50 a tonne higher, cif Rotterdam, and no trades were reported.

Dealers said the closure of Malaysian palm oil futures for the Hindu festival of Diwali contributed to the lack of activity in Europe. Sellers also kept EU rapeseed oil offers at little-changed levels in quiet conditions, with support from a weaker euro offset by a slight decline in CBOT soybean oil. The most active CBOT soyoil contract was off 0.45 percent at 33.44 cents per lb.

CHILE’S COCHILCO BOOSTS COPPER FORECAST

Chile state copper commission Cochilco forecasted on Wednesday an average global copper price of $2.95 per pound in 2018, a sharp upward revision from its mid-year estimate of $2.68, due to greater demand in China, a key market.

For 2017, it predicted an average copper price of $2.77 per pound, markedly higher than its previous estimate of $2.64. Cochilco also forecasted Chile’s copper output to fall 4 percent from 2016, to 5.27 million tonnes, due primarily to a 43-day strike at BHP Billiton Ltd’s Escondida mine in Chile, the largest copper mine in the world, earlier this year. In 2018, however, with Escondida operating at full capacity, the state commission predicted output will rise 7.8 percent, to 5.74 million tonnes.

WEATHER IMPACTS ON NEW ZEALAND MILK PRODUCTION

As dairy production levels increased across the US and Australia in recent months, unfavorable weather conditions impacted New Zealand production and Fonterra has cut its milk collection forecast. In September, Fonterra New Zealand milk collection was 2pc behind September last season, although Fonterra Australia collection increased 23pc on September last year. It comes as total New Zealand milk production in August was down 2pc compared to the same month last year. Fonterra also reported that EU and US dairy exports worldwide are up for the 12 months to July, 4pc and 14pc respectively, with EU exports driven by Skim Milk Powder sales. It is also predicting strong import growth from China, with imports over the 12 months to August up 9pc, driven in particular by demand for infant formula. New Zealand dairy-based exports remained static for the 12 months to July, with Total New Zealand dairy exports in July increased 8pc or 23,000 MT compared to the same month last year.

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