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US oil eases on soaring production

US crude futures eased slightly on Friday after hitting a 2019 high, as worries about the global economy and robust US production put a brake on prices.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures settled down 9 cents at $58.52 a barrel, having hit their highest so far this year at $58.95. Brent crude futures settled down 7 cents at $67.16 a barrel, below their 2019 peak of $68.14 reached on Thursday. US crude ended the week 4.1 percent higher, and Brent was up 1.9 percent.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia, an alliance known as OPEC+, agreed last year to cut production, partly in response to increased US shale output. OPEC+ ministers will meet on April 17-18 to decide production policy.

Palladium set fresh record, gold springs back

Palladium set a fresh record high on Friday amid expectations that China’s economic stimulus would drive demand for the autocatalyst metal, while news that Russia may ban exports of precious metal scraps compounded worries of a supply deficit.

Gold also rebounded, moving back above $1,300 an ounce, as the dollar dipped on weak US economic data.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing was open to additional monetary policy measures to support economic growth this year.

Spot palladium surged to a record $1,567.5 an ounce earlier in the session. The precious metal was trading 0.3 percent higher at $1,562.39 per ounce. With the intention of promoting domestic refining of materials, Russia’s trade and industry ministry is considering banning exports of precious metals scrap and tailings from the country, the world’s largest producer of palladium, local newspaper Kommersant reported. The price of the metal, used mainly in emissions-reducing catalysts for vehicles, has risen almost 90 percent from a trough in mid-August last year and is up about 24 percent so far in 2019.

Meanwhile, gold rebounded following the previous session’s decline, gaining 0.5 percent to $1,302.62 an ounce en route to its second straight weekly rise. US gold futures settled 0.6 percent higher at $1,302.90 an ounce.

Cbot wheat rallies on short-covering

Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures rallied on Thursday for the second time in three days, hitting their highest in more than a week as investors scrambled to unwind short positions, traders said. The short squeeze came as the winter wheat crop in the United States has been breaking dormancy. Short-covering also supported corn futures amid concerns that cold soils and muddy fields could hamper farmers’ early planting efforts. The weather also might limit growers’ ability to add much-needed fertilizer to corn fields ahead of planting. Soybean futures settled lower on uncertainty about a trade deal with China, the biggest export market for the oilseed.

Copper prices drop on weak Chinese data

Copper prices dropped on Thursday as industrial output in top metals consumer China fell to a 17-year low in the first two month of 2019, while LME stocks of the metal used in power and construction rose. Other Chinese data showed a mixed picture as the jobless rate climbed but property investment strengthened. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 1.3 percent to $6,390 per tonne in official outcry rings. U.S. President Donald Trump said he was in no rush to complete a trade agreement with China, with reports saying a U.S.-China meeting scheduled for later this month could be pushed back to at least April.


Malaysian palm oil down for 7th session

Malaysian palm oil futures fell for a seventh consecutive session on Thursday to a three-month low, as concerns over slowing demand and rising production dragged down the market. There was further pressure on prices as Europeans reduce consumption amid environmental concerns associated with the tropical product. The benchmark third-month palm oil contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange closed down 1.4 percent at 2,062 ringgit ($504.28) a tonne. Earlier in the session, the contract dropped to its weakest since mid-December at 2,051 ringgit a tonne.

China suspends oil price adjustment

China’s top economic planner said on Thursday that it would keep domestic gasoline and diesel prices unchanged as global oil prices have not fluctuated significantly in the past two weeks. Under the current mechanism, prices of refined oil products are adjusted when crude prices change by more than 50 yuan (7.46 US dollars) per tonne for gasoline and diesel over a period of 10 working days. Thursday’s suspension came after four consecutive hikes in fuel prices, with the latest one on Feb. 28. The economic planner said it would closely monitor the effects of the current pricing mechanism and make improvements in response to global fluctuations.

India rice prices up

Rice export rates in India rose this week due to an appreciation in the rupee, even as demand remained moderate, while Thai traders struggled with a lack of interest from foreign markets due to high prices. India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety rose to $386-$389 per tonne from last week’s $383-$386. The rupee was trading near its highest level in more than two months, trimming returns from overseas sales for traders in the world’s biggest exporter of the staple. In Thailand, the world’s second-biggest rice exporter, benchmark 5 percent broken rice prices were quoted at $380-$385, free on board Bangkok, mostly unchanged from last week’s $380-$390. Demand remained flat and the price fluctuation was due to the exchange rate between the local currency baht and the U.S. dollar, traders said.

China’s iron ore at week’s peak

Benchmark iron ore futures in China climbed to the week’s highest in early trade on Thursday as steel mills continued to buy raw materials, but the uncertain outlook for the country’s steel demand capped further gains. Steel prices were lower, with the benchmark construction steel rebar contract retreating after two days of gains. The May 2019 iron ore contract, the most active on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, rose as much as 2.2 percent to 623.5 yuan ($93.00) a tonne. Coking coal was up as much as 0.6 percent at 1,242 yuan a tonne, while coke edged up 0.8 percent to 2,016.5 yuan.

China Jan-Feb steel output rises

China’s daily steel output rose in January and February, as mills in the world’s top producer ramped up production amid firm steel margins and easier environmental restrictions. Average daily steel output over the two months reached 2.54 million tonnes, up from 2.46 million tonnes in December and 2.32 million tonnes in the same months last year, according to source.

London zinc falls

London zinc and most other base metals traded lower on Thursday, after comments from U.S. President Donald Trump chilled optimism over an imminent China trade deal and Chinese industrial output growth fell to a 17-year low. Trump said on Wednesday he was in no rush to complete a trade pact with China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, and insisted that any deal include protection for intellectual property.

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