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World oil prices rise

Oil prices rose on Thursday as the equities markets rallied and as market participants weighed a rise in US crude inventories and production against continued OPEC supply curbs.

Prices for the more actively traded June Brent crude futures LCOc2 were up 58 cents to settle at $69.34, while the May contract LCOc1 expiring on Thursday was up 74 cents at $70.27. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 gained 56 cents to settle at $64.94. WTI’s discount to Brent WTCLc1-LCOc1 has grown to more than $5 a barrel, the biggest since January, making Brent-linked crudes less attractive to refiners.

There was no trading on Friday due Good Friday holiday.

The Shanghai crude oil futures contract ISCc1 launched on Monday and has lost about 8 percent since opening. On Thursday, Reuters reported that China was taking its first steps to pay for imported crude oil in yuan instead of the US dollar.

Oil has risen about 4 percent since January, on track for the longest stretch of quarterly gains since late 2010. Strong compliance on supply cuts from members of The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies like Russia have pushed up prices. OPEC sources said the group and its allies are likely to keep their deal on cutting output for the rest of 2018.

But growing supply in the United States is pressuring prices. Commercial US stocks rose 1.6 million barrels in the past week C-STK-T-EIA, while output hit a record 10.43 million barrels per day (bpd).

Gold prices largely steady in Asia

Gold prices held largely steady on Thursday, a day after posting its biggest one-day percentage fall in nearly 9 months, as tensions over North Korea and global trade eased.

Spot gold was nearly unchanged at $1,325.16 per ounce at 0736 GMT, after hitting a low of $1,322.50 earlier in the session, it’s lowest since March 21. Prices dropped 1.5 percent on Wednesday, their biggest one-day percentage decline since July 3, 2017.

US gold futures for April delivery were steady at $1,324 per ounce.

“There was a premium in the (gold) price due to both the trade issue and with the North Korea. Both of these tensions look to be less inflamed currently,” said Cameron Alexander, an analyst with Thomson Reuters-owned metals consultancy GFMS.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un pledged his commitment to denuclearisation and meet US officials, China said on Wednesday after his meeting with President Xi Jinping, who promised China would uphold friendship with its isolated neighbor.

In other precious metals, spot silver was steady after falling to $16.20 per ounce, its lowest in one week. Silver was on track to post its worst quarter in three. Platinum rose 0.5 percent to $936.30 per ounce. Palladium was up 0.3 percent to $968.90 an ounce. For the quarter, the metal is down more than 8 percent so far, its worst since the quarter ended December 2015.

Wheat down, corn and soy choppy

US wheat futures dipped to two-month lows on Wednesday as improving weather for developing crops in the drought-hit southern Plains put the focus back on ample world supplies, traders said.

Corn futures were little changed and soybeans were choppy as traders squared positions a day ahead of key US planting intentions and quarterly stocks reports due from the US Department of Agriculture. As of 12:40 p.m. CDT (1740 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade May wheat was down 2-1/2 cents at $4.46-1/2 per bushel after hitting $4.44-1/2, its lowest since Jan. 25. CBOT May corn was down 3/4 cent at $3.73-1/4 a bushel while May soybeans were up 1/4 cent at $10.19-3/4 a bushel. Wheat futures fell after rains crossed portions of the southern Plains hard red winter wheat belt this week, bolstering yield prospects for a crop that has struggled with dry conditions, in some areas since October.

Raw sugar hits 2-1/2-year low

Raw sugar futures fell to a 2-1/2-year low on Wednesday as broader economic concerns and the weakness of top producer Brazil’s currency added to an already bearish mood in a market struggling with excess supplies May raw sugar was down 0.27 cent, or 2.15 percent, at 12.27 cents per lb at 1403 GMT after touching 12.20 cents, the weakest for the front month since September 2015.

Dealers said prices were weighed down partly by a firmer dollar and macroeconomic concerns, with global shares toppling again. A fall in Brazil’s real to its lowest against the dollar since December 2017 could also trigger more selling in the world’s top producer by making prices more attractive in local currency terms. Commodity analysts at Green Pool on Wednesday raised their forecasts for anticipated global sugar surpluses in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, with supplies boosted by strong production in India and Thailand. The analysts said the two surplus seasons would raise stocks-to-use to 53.2 percent by the end of 2018/19.


Palm oil slips as ringgit gains further

Malaysian palm oil futures edged down in early trade on Wednesday, as the ringgit strengthened further and hit its highest in nearly two years.

The Malaysian currency rose as much as 0.53 percent against the dollar to 3.8550, its highest since April 2016, bolstered by high oil prices and portfolio inflows. It was last up 0.48 percent at 3.8570 per dollar around noon and was headed for a third consecutive sessions of gains.

Gains in the ringgit, palm’s currency of trade, usually weigh on the tropical oil by making it more expensive for holders of foreign currencies.

The benchmark palm oil contract for June delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange was down 0.3 percent at 2,423 ringgit ($628.29) a tonne at the midday break, heading for a second straight session of declines. Palm fell to a one-week low of 2,410 ringgit on Tuesday, and has been range trading around 2,400 ringgit in the last two weeks. It has shed over 5 percent so far this month in what could be its biggest monthly drop since November 2017.

China copper prices move up

Shanghai copper prices edged up on Friday as the dollar weakened, making metals cheaper for holders of other currencies, but were set to post their steepest quarterly drop since 2013 after recent fears of a US-China trade war spooked markets.

The London Metal Exchange is closed on Friday and Monday for the Easter holiday.

The most-traded May copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was up 0.5 percent at 49,900 yuan ($7,949.91) a tonne by 0220 GMT.

Shanghai copper is on course to lose 11.2 percent this quarter. That would mark its worst quarterly performance since the second quarter of 2013, with a 5.8 percent drop in March alone – its worst month since November 2015.

The most traded May aluminium contract on the ShFE was down 0.9 percent at 13,665 yuan a tonne.

Kospo buys 435,000 tonnes of coal

Korea Southern Power Co Ltd (KOSPO) bought 435,000 tonnes of coal for loading in August via a tender that closed on Tuesday, a source from the utility said on Wednesday. The utility purchased the coal from Columbia, the source said, without giving out price and supplier details.

China sells 15,600 tonnes of cotton

China sells 15,600 tonnes of cotton at auction of state reserves at an average price of 14,187 yuan ($2,256.06) per tonne, according to industry source. Sales represent 51.83 percent of the cotton available at the auction.

Big tea producers pan Pan-India auction

Big tea producers in the country are unhappy with the pan-India tea auction, saying it has failed in fair price discovery for them. State-run Tea Board has mandated that 50percent of the tea manufactured must be routed through public auctions. India is the second-largest producer of tea in the world and makes up 26percent of the global tea production. Indian Tea Association (ITA) has called for a review of the auction system as it has not led to an increase in auction prices over the past few years. The association said that the increase in the numbers of small growers and bought leaf factories have brought a paradigm shift in the industry dynamics.

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