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Oil up on threats of rebel attacks in Nigeria, falling US crude stocks

Oil prices rose on Thursday on a reported decline in US crude inventories, and as rebels in Nigeria threatened to attack the country’s petroleum infrastructure. However, prices stayed below recent three-year highs as fuel supplies remain ample and as refineries scaled back operations.

Brent crude futures were at $69.56 at Asian trade, up 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close. On Monday, they hit their highest since December, 2014 at $70.37 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $64.25 a barrel, up 28 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement. WTI marked a December-2014 peak of $64.89 a barrel on Tuesday.

Copper ticks higher on bargain hunting after sell-off

Copper edged higher on Wednesday as investors and industrial buyers took advantage of lower prices after a sell-off, although some analysts said there was potential for further falls.

Copper surged 12 percent in a rally during December, but has since eased back about 3 percent. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.3 percent to $7,095.50 a ton by after a fall of 1.8 percent on Tuesday.

Chicago wheat up on short-covering

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Chicago wheat rose for a second consecutive session on Thursday, with prices underpinned by short-covering and expectations of demand for US shipments after prices dropped to a one-month low earlier this week. Corn inched down for the first time in three sessions, though prices remained near a two-week high hit the previous day.

The Chicago Board of Trade most-active wheat contract rose 0.2 percent to $4.22-1/4 a bushel in early trade, after closing up 1.2 percent on Wednesday. Corn slid 0.1 percent to $3.52-1/2 a bushel following a 1.4 percent gain in the previous session when prices touched their highest since Jan. 4 at $3.53-1/4 a bushel.

Brazil ships less coffee in 2017, sees recovery in 2018

Brazil exported 27.31 million 60-kg bags of green coffee in 2017, 10 percent less than in 2016, as a smaller crop and slow farmer sales reduced shipments to the smallest volume since 2012, exporters association said on Tuesday. The association expects better volumes in 2018 when the country will likely produce a record crop, but monthly volumes will only recover around June when the new harvest start to reach warehouses.

 

Gold holds near four-month highs

Gold prices held near four-month highs on Wednesday even as a stronger dollar made bullion more expensive for holders of other currencies. The price of gold has risen by about 8 percent since mid-December, helped by a weakening of the dollar to a three-year low against a basket of major currencies.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,337.22 an ounce close to Monday’s peak of $1,344.44, its highest since Sept. 8. US gold futures were flat at $1,337.30. Traders said that gold is likely to remain within a range of $1,300-$1,340 in the short term as the dollar remained weak.

Raw sugar off recent lows

Raw sugar futures on ICE edged higher on Wednesday, lifted by light technical buying, but enduring worries about a looming global supply glut kept prices near a 3-1/2 month low touched a day earlier. March raw sugar was up 0.07 cent, or 0.5 percent, at 13.66 cents per lb, after climbing to 13.74 cents. Prices tumbled as much as 4.3 percent on Tuesday to a low of 13.57 cents, the weakest for the front month since Sept. 29. March white sugar was up $1.20, or 0.3 percent, at $364.60 a ton.

Price swings the new normal for seaborne iron ore

Imagine for a moment that iron ore was still priced the way it was for decades, in closed-door meetings between miners and steel makers, and then try to visualise what the current level would be. Whatever number experts may have come up with, it’s unlikely to be anything close to the $76.57 a ton iron ore futures traded in Singapore fetched at the close on Monday.

It’s likely that it would be a far lower figure, given the current seaborne market dynamics of ample, and growing supply, and reasonable, but no longer, surging demand growth. But the main difference between the long-term contract talks that prevailed up until around 2010 and the current system of short-term deals and spot pricing is the volatility of seaborne iron ore prices.

The SGX futures, which mirror the spot price for cargoes delivered to China, is up 7.4 percent in the first half of January, part of a longer rally that has seen it surge some 31 percent since the start of November. Iron ore futures ended 2016 at $79.75 a ton, peaked at $90.16 in mid-March, then plunged to $53.66 by mid-June, before recovering to $77.80 in early September.

NZ milk production down 6pc

Dry, hot weather in December caused a ‘significant’ 6 percent decline in milk production of New Zealand over the month, compared with the same month a year earlier. Wet weather early this month had helped some regions but further rain in the next few weeks would be needed to see any recovery in production, particularly in Waikato, Taranaki and Central Districts. Dry weather in early December significantly impacted soil moisture and pasture quality across the country. December production fell by 8 percent in the North Island and fell by 1 percent in the South Island, compared with December a year earlier.

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