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Oil set for strongest January since 2013; wary of data

Oil prices fell for a third day on Wednesday ahead of the possible first rise in US inventories in 11 weeks, but crude remained on track for its biggest gain in January in five years. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 20 cents at $68.82 a barrel by 1432 GMT, above a two-week low hit earlier in the day. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was down 14 cents at $64.36, adding to Tuesday’s losses. Despite Wednesday’s weakness, prices are still on track for a fifth month of gains and Brent is set for its largest percentage January rise since 2013, with a 2.7 percent increase. Higher prices, however, have encouraged US producers to increase their rig count. Energy companies added 12 oil rigs last week, the biggest weekly increase since March.

Robusta coffee rebounds from 2-week low

Robusta coffee futures rose on Wednesday as industry buying lifted prices off a two-week low touched a day earlier, while energy markets pressured raw sugar and a weaker dollar boosted New York cocoa. March robusta was up $36, or 2.1 percent, at $1,764 a ton by 1437 GMT, after rising to a session high of$1,768. Prices fell to a two-week low in the prior session, pressured by producer selling and a weakening in the arabica coffee market. However, dealers noted lower prices had drawn strong demand from roasters at Tuesday’s close and Wednesday’s opening, which had boosted the market. March arabica rose 0.55 cent, or 0.5 percent, to $1.2285 per lb. Prices dropped on Tuesday, pressured by a decline in the Brazilian real. A weaker real improves local currency returns on dollar-based commodities such as coffee, encouraging producers to sell.

Copper gains as dollar slips

Copper rose more than 1 percent on Wednesday and base metals rallied across the board as the dollar fell before the release of a Federal Reserve policy statement. The red metal used in construction shrugged off slightly softer than expected Chinese manufacturing data as the weaker dollar made assets priced in the US unit cheaper for holders of other currencies. However, with speculators cutting their net long positions in copper futures and options, copper may have further to retrace, having fallen 1.5 percent so far this month after December’s rally to a near four-year high, analysts said. London Metal Exchange copper was up 1.1 percent at $7,125 a ton at 1515 GMT. Prices fell 0.5 percent in the previous session, touching their lowest in nearly a week at $6,994.

BP discovers North sea oil and gas

British energy major BP on Wednesday announced oil and gas discoveries in the North Sea, in a boost for the company and local industry.

The discoveries were made in Capercaillie in the central North Sea, and in Achmelvich, west of Shetland, the company said in a statement. BP fully owns the Capercaillie well, while the Achmelvich well is a partnership between operator BP (52.6 percent), Royal Dutch Shell (28 percent) and US peer Chevron (19.4 percent). The Capercaillie well was drilled to 3,750 metres (12,303 feet) and found oil and gas. The Achmelvich well was drilled to 2,395 metres (7,857 feet) and located oil.

Palm oil drops on weaker related oils

Malaysian palm oil futures fell more than 1 percent late on Tuesday, charting a third session of losses in four, as they tracked losses in related edible oils. Palm oil prices are affected by performances in other oils as they compete for a share in the global vegetable oils market.

The benchmark palm oil contract for April delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange fell 1.1 percent at 2,492 ringgit ($639.06) a ton at the end of the trading day. It rose 1.4 percent in the previous session, its sharpest daily gain in nearly a month, but was down 0.4 percent on-month in a third consecutive month of losses. Trading volumes stood at 37,189 lots of 25 tons each at the close of trade.

Swiss gold exports slide to lowest on record in 2017

Swiss gold exports fell last year to their lowest since the records became public in 2012, while imports slipped to their weakest since 2014.

In 2017 Switzerland, a major trading, vaulting and refining centre for precious metals, imported 2.35 tons of gold; 15 percent less than the previous year, while exporting 1.56 tons of the metal, down by a fifth. India took over from the United Kingdom as the biggest recipient of Swiss gold exports last year, with its imports rising by a quarter year on year to 406,417 kg. Exports to major gold consumers China and Hong Kong fell. The UK was the biggest source of gold imports into Switzerland last year, with 317,951 kilograms tons shipped. London is also a major vaulting centre for gold.

China to cut 2018 rice acreage by 2.2pc

China will curb planting of rice, its most important food grain, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday, in a major step towards reducing a growing mountain of unsold stocks.

The world’s second-largest rice grower will aim to slash the acreage planted by over 10 million mu or about 670,000 hectares, it said, around 2.2 percent of its plantings for 2017. It is the first time China has sought to curb planting acreage of its most important food, underlining its worry over stock levels.

Irish milk production soars

There was an increase of 9.2 percent in milk production levels year-on-year on Irish dairy farms in 2017, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

A total of 7,268 million litres of milk were produced on dairy farms in the Republic of Ireland between January and December of the year just gone. This compared to a total of 6,653.9 million litres of milk in 2016. With regards to the final month of 2017, the level of milk production was up 13.7 percent year-on-year – to 202.7 million litres.

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