LONDON, Aug 19 (AFP): Crude futures plunged this week, in line with many commodity prices, amid evidence of an economic slowdown in the United States and a lowering of tensions in the Middle East, analysts said.
But nickel prices hit a fresh historic record on keen demand, while coffee soared on concerns over stretched supplies.
On Friday, the Commodities Research Bureau's index of 17 commodities fell to 330.62 points, from 346.30 points the previous week.
GOLD: The price of gold retreated to a one-month low as reduced US inflationary pressures hampered demand and receding geopolitical concerns.
The precious metal usually benefits from its safe-haven status in times in geopolitical instability, while gold is also seen as a good hedge against increasing costs.
On the London Bullion Market, gold prices dropped to 613.90 dollars per ounce at Friday's late fixing, from 644.50 dollars a week earlier.
SILVER: Silver prices recoiled.
On the London Bullion Market, silver prices fell to 12.01 dollars per ounce at Friday's fixing, from 12.27 dollars the previous week.
PLATINUM: Platinum prices followed other precious metals lower, but palladium hit two-and-a-half month high on speculative buying. Palladium rose to 334 dollars per ounce Friday from 321 dollars the previous week.
BASE METALS: Base metal prices mainly fell this week, while nickel enjoyed a record-breaking run owing to falling global stocks and keen demand from stainless steel makers. Nickel, a metal used to help prevent corrosion, hit 29,200 dollars per tonne Wednesday on the London Metal Exchange (LME). Sucden analyst Michael Davies said that he expected the market to test the 30,000 dollar per tonne level. Three-month aluminium prices rose to 2,484 dollars per tonne from 2,564 dollars. Three-month nickel prices soared to 28,400 dollars per tonne from 27,200 dollars. Three-month lead prices advanced to 1,204 dollars per tonne from 1,190 dollars. Three-month zinc prices decreased to 3,295 dollars per tonne from 3,430 dollars. Three-month tin prices eased to 8,425 dollars per tonne from 8,450 dollars.
OIL: Crude futures nosedived this week after a UN-brokered ceasefire deal began between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas Monday, and BP said it would maintain half of output at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. Prices sank around four dollars over the course of the week to reach two- month lows. New York crude fell below the 70.0 dollar mark Friday to lows last seen on June 21. At about 1600 GMT Friday in New York, a barrel of crude for delivery in September sank to 69.90 dollars per barrel from 74.10 dollars the previous week. In London, a barrel of Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October slumped to 71.92 dollars per barrel, from 75.99 dollars.
RUBBER: Rubber prices fell owing to sparse rain in leading Asian exporters.
On TOCOM, Tokyo's commodity exchange, natural rubber for January delivery fell to 252.80 yen per kilogramme Friday, from 266.50 yen a week earlier.
Singapore's RSS 3 December contract slid to 215.25 US cents per kilogramme Friday, from 229 US cents a week earlier.
COCOA: Cocoa prices rose declined amid encouraging signs of a bumper harvest in leading producer Ivory Coast.
COFFEE: Coffee prices hit the best level for six and a half years in London on concerns over tight supplies in Vietnam. However, Arabica prices fell on forecasts of an abundant harvest in Brazil.
SUGAR: Sugar prices fell in London to 374 dollars Thursday-the lowest point since January 4. New York prices sank to 11.96 cents, last seen in November 2005.
On LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for October delivery dropped to 378 dollars, from 407 dollars a week earlier.
GRAINS, SOYA: Wheat and soya prices mostly retreated amid heavy rains in the United States, which is deemed more favourable for harvests.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, the price of wheat for September delivery fell to 3.61 US dollars per bushel Friday, from 3.77 dollars a week earlier.
Maize for September delivery decreased to 2.18 dollars per bushel Friday, from 2.29 dollars.
COTTON: Cotton prices slipped owing to rainy weather in the US, which increases harvests, and weaker Chinese demand.
On the New York Cotton Exchange (NYCE), the December contract stood at 54.80 US cents per pound Friday, from 55.85 US cents a week earlier.
WOOL: Wool prices advanced in Australia due to high Chinese demand.
The British Wooltops index stood at 401 pence Thursday unchanged from the previous Thursday.