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World oil prices surge after us picks new security advisor

World oil prices surged Friday as the appointment of ultra-hawkish John Bolton as US national security advisor sparked fears over crude exports from key OPEC producer Iran.

The market also jumped on the back of the faltering greenback, which makes dollar-denominated oil cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies.

In late afternoon deals, European benchmark Brent North Sea crude for May delivery traded near two-month highs, soaring $1.24 to $70.15 a barrel compared with Thursday’s close. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for the same month meanwhile rebounded $1.21 to $65.51 per barrel.

President Donald Trump has named hardline Fox News pundit and former UN ambassador John Bolton, 69, as his new national security chief, ousting embattled army general HR McMaster.

Thursday’s shock appointment of Bolton, regarded by many as the hawk’s hawk, calls the future of a landmark deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program into serious doubt — and continued to send shockwaves through the oil market on Friday.

Neoconservative Bolton — who has championed pre-emptive strikes against North Korea and regime change in Iran — will now frame the security decisions that make it to Trump’s desk. The news — the latest in a cascade of Trump’s staff changes — came just days after he replaced secretary of state Rex Tillerson with another Iran hawk, CIA director Mike Pompeo.

Metals fall on US-China trade dispute

Base metals in Shanghai and London fell on Friday on fears that an escalating trade spat between China and the United States, the world’s top two economies, could derail global growth and damage demand.

In London, copper and aluminum hit the weakest since mid-December, while in Shanghai copper prices retreated towards levels not seen since mid-2017. Seasonally building inventories and deteriorating chart signals pointed to more downside near term.

London Metal Exchange copper fell 0.7 percent to $6,650 a tonne by 0121 GMT having plumbed its weakest since mid December 2016. Prices extended a 1.4 percent fall from the previous session, breaking the 200-day moving average for the first time in around 18 months.

Shanghai Futures Exchange copper tumbled 2 percent to 49,930 yuan ($7,885) a tonne, the weakest since July 2017.

US President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Thursday that could impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports from China, although the measures have a 30-day consultation period.

China’s commerce ministry said on Friday that the country was planning measures against up to $3 billion of US imports to balance US tariffs against Chinese steel and aluminum products, amid a brewing trade war between the two countries.

A sell-off in steel spilled into inputs nickel and zinc.

Shanghai rebar tumbled near 6 percent, while Shfe nickel slid near 4 percent. LME nickel fell 1 percent, adding to 2 percent losses from the session before. Shfe aluminium sank to its weakest since October 2016, hammered by concerns of rising China supply now pollution-linked output curbs have expired as well as US trade tensions. LME aluminium held at its lowest since mid-December, having broken below the 200DMA mid-month.

India scraps sugar export tax

India has scrapped a 20 percent sugar export tax, a government source said on Tuesday, to help boost overseas sales in a year of surplus production. Last week it is reported that India, the world’s biggest consumer of sugar, would axe the export tax and then make it compulsory for mills to export a combined 2 million to 3 million tons to cut bulging stocks at home.

The country is likely to produce a record 29.5 million tons of sugar in the 2017/18 season ending on Sept. 30, up 45 percent from the previous year, pulling down local prices more than 15 percent over the past six months. Pakistan, which has decided to give subsidies for sugar exports, is selling the sweetener at $340 per ton, a price India would find difficult to match. India’s current domestic price for sugar is $460 a ton, free on board. In late January, Pakistan increased the amount of sugar eligible for export subsidies to 2 million tons from 500,000 tons to reduce its own excess supplies.

Wheat nears two-month low

US wheat futures fell to near two-month lows on Wednesday on forecasts for another round of beneficial showers next week in the southern Plains production belt that could boost winter wheat production prospects, analysts said. Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures eased while corn firmed in choppy trade.

As of 12:59 p.m. CDT (1759 GMT), CBOT May wheat was down 2-1/4 cents at $4.50-3/4 per bushel after dipping to $4.46-3/4, its lowest since Jan. 26. K.C. May hard red winter wheat was down 6-1/4 cents at $4.63-3/4 after hitting $4.58-1/4, its lowest since Jan. 26. CBOT May soybeans were down 1-1/2 cents at $10.26-3/4 a bushel and May corn was up 1/2 cent at $3.75.

 

Switzerland becomes net gold exporter in February

Switzerland became a net exporter of gold for the first time in more than two years in February, data from the Swiss customs bureau showed on Tuesday, as shipments into the country fell to their lowest since April 2014. Switzerland, a major trading, vaulting and refining centre for precious metals, reported net gold exports of 18,143 kg last month, against net imports of 99,194 kg in January and 108,072 kg in February 2017. Argentina was the biggest source of Swiss gold imports by weight last month, shipping in 35,748 kg.

Palm oil falls on sharp rise in production

Malaysian palm oil futures dipped in early trade on Wednesday on figures showing a strong rise in regional production so far in March, partly reversing two sessions of gains.

The benchmark palm oil contract for June delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange fell 0.5 percent to 2,423 ringgit ($617.64) a tonne at the midday break. Trading volumes stood at 26,444 lots of 25 tonnes each at noon. Output data released by the Southern Peninsular Palm Oil Millers Association (SPPOMA) before the midday break showed regional output for the March 1-20 period climbed 36.4 percent from a month earlier.

Indonesia buys 50,000 tonnes of rice

Indonesian state food procurement agency Bulog bought about 50,000 tons rice in an international tender, European traders said on Wednesday.

The rice in the purchase is expected to be sourced from Pakistan, they said. The purchase included 12,500 tons of white rice of 5 percent broken grade all bought at $460 a ton c&f. Another 37,500 tons of white rice of 15 percent broken grade was all purchased at $450 a ton c&f. The purchase was divided among eight trading houses, all receiving the same tonnage allocation. Latest shipment period is May 31 and all the rice will be shipped in containers.

Highest price of Kenya’s best coffee down at auction

The maximum price of Kenya’s benchmark grade AA coffee fell at this week’s auction from last week’s sale, the Nairobi Coffee Exchange said on Wednesday.

The East African nation produces high-quality coffee that is in high demand from global roasters to blend with beans from elsewhere.

China iron ore rebounds on hopes of demand recovery

China’s iron ore bounced back on Wednesday after three consecutive sessions of declines, buoyed by expectations of an increase in restocking demand from downstream users next month.

The most-traded iron ore futures in the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 0.9 percent to 463 yuan ($73.13) a ton. It touched 453.5 yuan a ton, the lowest level since Nov.3 in the previous session. Workers typically return to work a week after Chinese New Year celebration. In 2018, the country had its biggest national holiday in mid-February.

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