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weekly round-up: commodity prices
Oil and metals prices rally

          LONDON, Mar 24 (AFP): World crude prices rose this week following more volatile trading, while copper and zinc hit historic highs owing to low inventories of base metals.
The Commodities Research Bureau's index of 17 commodities climbed to 328.35 points Friday, from 327.70 points the previous week.
GOLD: Gold prices advanced but failed to perform as well as other metals.
On the London Bullion Market, gold prices gained to 556.75 dollars per ounce at Friday's late fixing from 552.75 dollars the previous week.
SILVER: Silver prices hit a fresh 22-and-a-half-year high.
On Friday, silver prices reached 10.745 dollars per ounce-the highest level since September 1983. Prices have risen 19.0 per cent since the start of the year.
Silver was boosted by news Tuesday that the Securities and Exchange Commission, a US government financial watchdog, gave its backing for a silver fund to begin trading on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX).
On the London Bullion Market, silver prices rose to 10.68 dollars per ounce at Friday's fixing, from 10.36 dollars the previous week.
PALLADIUM AND PLATINUM: Platinum and palladium prices gained in the wake of silver.
Palladium rose to 326.5 dollars per ounce Friday, the highest level since April 2004.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, an ounce of platinum advanced to 1,042 dollars per ounce at the late fixing Friday, compared with 1,033 dollars the previous week.
Palladium gained to 324 dollars per ounce Friday, from 316
BASE METALS: Base metals prices advanced, led by copper and zinc which hit historic high points owing to low inventories of the commodities.
Copper prices hit a record high 5,255 dollars per tonne Friday, while Thursday zinc touched 2,585 dollars per tonne, also a historic peak.
On Friday, three-month copper prices on the London Metal Exchange jumped to 5,207 dollars per tonne from 5,035.50 dollars the previous week.
Three-month aluminium prices dollars climbed to 2,512 dollars per tonne from 2,452 dollars. Three-month nickel prices lifted to 15,080 dollars per tonne from 14,910 dollars.
Three-month lead prices gained to 1,235 dollars per tonne from 1,184.50 dollars.
Three-month zinc prices advanced to 2,543 dollars per tonne from 2,452 dollars.
Three-month tin prices rose to 8,125 dollars per tonne from 7,975 dollars.
OIL: World crude prices rose following the second volatile week in a row.
After tumbling more than 2.0 dollars in New York Monday owing to the presence of plentiful stocks of US crude, oil prices raced higher Thursday as the market focused on weaker gasoline (petrol) supplies.
New York crude jumped 2.14 dollars to close at 63.91 dollars Thursday-the highest finish since February 6.
Levels of gasoline stocks are taking on a sharper focus ahead of the US peak-demand season beginning in May, when American drivers take to the open roads on vacation.
Supply disruptions in Nigeria, Africa's biggest producer of crude, helped also to support prices this week. Traders meanwhile tracked events over Iran amid concerns that the world's fourth biggest producer of crude may disrupt its oil exports if punished over its controversial nuclear programme.
Trading in London had been temporarily suspended Thursday owing to technical factors.
In London, a barrel of Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May rose to 63.56 dollars per barrel Friday, from 63.26 dollars the previous week.
In New York, a barrel of crude for delivery in May climbed to 64.40 dollars per barrel Friday from 64.20 dollars.
RUBBER: Rubber prices firmed amid the ongoing wintering season across Asia.
Wintering refers to the low-harvest season which normally lasts between February and April across major rubber producers Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. However this year it has begun late and is set to end early.
On TOCOM, Tokyo's commodity exchange, natural rubber for June delivery climbed to 245.70 yen per kilogramme Friday, from 243.10 yen the previous week.
Singapore's RSS 3 June contract increased to 206.75 US cents per kilogramme Friday, from 205.50 cents.
COFFEE: Coffee prices hit a three-month low point owing to forecasts of an abundant harvest.
In New York, prices slid to 103.50 dollars per pound, the lowest level since December 22.
On LIFFE, Robusta quality for May delivery declined to 1,127 dollars per tonne Friday, from 1,166 dollars a week earlier.
On NYBoT, Arabica for May delivery declined to 106.15 US cents per pound Friday, from 107.80 cents.
SUGAR: Sugar prices gained in line with higher oil futures. Sugar cane is used to produce ethanol, a cheaper alternative to gasoline or petrol.
By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for May delivery climbed to 448 dollars, down from 439.50 dollars the previous week.
On NYBot, the price of unrefined sugar for May delivery advanced to 16.92 US cents per pound Friday, from 16.46 cents.
GRAINS AND SOYA: Grain and soya prices mostly fell owing to rainy weather in leading producer the United States, which is deemed favourable for crop growth.
On the LIFFE, the price of a tonne of wheat for May delivery edged up to 72.40 pounds late Friday, from 72 pounds a week earlier.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, the price of wheat for May delivery fell to 3.44 US dollars per bushel Friday, from 3.56 dollars.
Maize for May delivery dropped to 2.21 dollars per bushel Friday from 2.24 dollars.
May-dated soyabean meal-used in animal feed-stood at 5.78 dollars per tonne, unchanged from a week earlier.
COTTON: Cotton prices fell to the lowest point for six months on massive selling by speculators, analysts said.
Cotton prices hit 52.02 US cents per pound in New York Thursday, the lowest point since September 2005.
The US Department of Agriculture said Thursday that orders of US cotton stood at 438,900 bales in the week ending March 16, a drop of 1.0 per cent from the previous week. However, they surged 54.0 per cent when compared with the previous four-week average.


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