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Oil rises, makes largest weekly gain since July

Oil prices rose on Friday, making the largest weekly gain since July, supported by concerns about the possibility of Western military action in Syria and reports of dwindling global oil inventories.

The prospect of military action in Syria that could lead to confrontation with Russia hung over the Middle East but there was no sign a US-led attack was imminent.

Traders sought to lock in long crude oil positions ahead of the weekend, said John Kilduff, Partner at hedge fund Again Capital Management.

“The geopolitical jitters just keep getting priced in here more and more, as we get closer to the moment of the strikes, if there are any,” Kilduff said, noting Syria posed a risk to global stability because of its relationship with other powerful oil producers.

Brent crude LCOc1 recovered from losses early in the session and settled up 56 cents at $72.58 a barrel, with a $5.48 weekly gain, or 8 percent.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures rose 32 cents to $67.39 a barrel, up 8 percent for the week.

Hedge funds and money managers cut their bullish wagers on US crude for the second week in a row in the week to April 10, data showed on Friday. The move came even as prices rose, according to data released by the CFTC.

On Wednesday this week, both oil benchmarks hit their highest since late 2014 after US President Donald Trump warned missiles “will be coming” in response to a suspected gas attack in Syria and after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh.

Gold prices move higher

Gold prices rose on Friday, heading for a second consecutive weekly gain on lingering uncertainty over Western military action in Syria.

US President Donald Trump and his national security aides on Thursday discussed options on Syria, where he has threatened missile strikes in response to a suspected poison gas attack, as a Russian envoy voiced fears of wider conflict between Washington and Moscow.

Trump, however, cast doubt over the timing of his threatened strike, tweeting that a US attack “could be very soon or not so soon at all”.

In the New York market, spot gold increased 0.7 percent at $1,344.40 per ounce by 1:38 p.m. EDT (1738 GMT), set for a weekly gain of nearly 1 percent. US gold futures for June delivery settled up $6, or 0.5 percent, at $1,347.90.

Meanwhile, silver rose 1.4 percent at $16.67 per ounce, up nearly 2 percent this week. Platinum was up 0.4 percent at $928.40 per ounce. For the week, the metal was on course for a 1.7 percent gain, the biggest rise in about two months. Palladium climbed 2.2 percent at $985.40 per ounce after hitting a 3-week high of $990.50.

Wheat ends lower

US wheat futures fell roughly 1 percent on Wednesday amid reminders of plentiful global supplies and some outlooks for rain in the Plains wheat belt late next week. Corn declined on technical selling and soybeans turned lower, a day after the spot May contract set a one-month top.

Chicago Board of Trade May soft red winter wheat settled down 4-3/4 cents at $4.87-1/4 per bushel. May corn ended down 2-1/4 cents at $3.87 and May soybeans fell 2-1/4 cents at $10.47-3/4 a bushel. Wheat slipped as traders digested Tuesday’s monthly US Department of Agriculture (USDA) supply/demand report in which the government raised its forecast of world 2017-18 wheat ending stocks to a record-high 271.2 million tonnes.

China iron ore retreats

Iron ore futures in China shook off early gains to end lower on Wednesday, reflecting worries over slipping steel margins this year amid leaner demand in the world’s top consumer. A seasonal pickup in China’s construction activity that usually occurs in April and May has been off to a slow start, traders said.

A likely destocking in iron ore and falling steel margins may weigh on iron ore prices in the short term,” ANZ strategists Daniel Hynes and Soni Kumari said in a report. The most-traded September iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed down 0.7 percent at 447.50 yuan ($71) a tonne, after rising more than 2 percent intraday to a one-week high of 461 yuan. The most-active October rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange slipped 0.7 percent to 3,395 yuan a tonne.

 

Bangladesh’s rice imports set to skid

Bangladesh’s rice imports are likely to plunge 66 percent from a year ago to 1.2 million tonnes in 2018/19 as the south Asian country is likely to harvest a bigger crop after prices jumped in the domestic market, industry officials told.

Lower imports by Bangladesh could reduce rice exports by India, the biggest supplier to the neighbouring country. Bangladesh is unlikely to buy actively in the market next fiscal year like this year. It’s imports would be around 1.2 million tonnes,” Nitin Gupta, vice president, rice business at Olam India, told.

Global black tea output up 13.25pc

The global black tea production so far this calendar has increased by 13.25 per cent over the same period of 2017. This has happened because the loss in India has been offset by the gains in Africa and Sri Lanka. Based on the data received from various producing countries, our compilation shows that the total production of black tea so far has increased to 151.12 million kg (mkg) from 133.44 mkg in 2017. This increase of 17.68 mkg marked a growth of 13.25 percent, said Rajesh Gupta, compiler of annual ‘Global Tea Digest’. Kenya posted the highest increase of 13.17 mkg to reach 68.77 mkg. Another African country, Malawi, posted an increase of 21.15 per cent over 5.20 mkg to reach 6.30 mkg, while Sri Lanka’s output has increased to 45.33 mkg from 39.71 mkg. On the contrary, India’s output dropped to 30.35 mkg from 32.75 mkg due to adverse weather conditions in both the North and South. This fall of 2.40 mkg marked a decline of 7.33 percent, Gupta said.

Aluminium extends rally on Rusal supply concerns

Aluminium prices extended their rally on Wednesday to a sixth straight session, hitting an 11-week peak, amid persistent worries about shortages after the United States imposed sanctions on Russia’s Rusal. Several metals went into the red after US President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack, declaring that missiles “will be coming”, but recovered at the close. Both the London Metal Exchange (LME) and the CME Group said they were taking action to restrict aluminium brands of Rusal, one of the world’s biggest producers, on their exchanges.

US cash soymeal-rail, truck basis offers flat; futures turn up

Spot basis offers for US soymeal delivered by rail and trucks were unchanged on Wednesday as market participants eyed the turnaround in futures prices, dealers said. Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soymeal futures reversed Tuesday’s losses, aided by short-covering and firmer soybean contracts.

CBOT corn to keep hovering below $3.92

CBOT May corn may continue to hover below a resistance at $3.92 per bushel or retrace to a support at $3.86-1/4, as suggested by a projection analysis and a trendline. The resistance is identified as the 86.4 percent projection level of an upward wave C from $3.72. Working together with the resistance is another one established by the falling trendline. Corn failed twice to overcome the barrier at $3.92. The two failures have led to the formation of a tiny double-top. Unless corn could break above $3.92 soon, it is more likely to fall towards $3.86-1/4.

GB milk production for 2017-18 near record levels

Milk production increased by 2.8 percent on the previous year to 12,402m litres in the year to 31 March.

This is the second highest level since the 1980s. Britain produced 349m more litres of milk compared with 2016-17, despite the terrible weather that hampered production at the end of the season, according to AHDB Dairy.

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