Gold price strikes 25-year high, oil supported by supply fears
LONDON, Jan 14 (AFP): Gold prices hit 25-year high points this week and oil struck three-month peaks on supply concerns in Iran and Nigeria.
Copper, lead and zinc prices reached record heights in the wake of gold, while aluminium and platinum notched up impressive multi-year highs.
The Commodities Research Bureau's index of 17 commodities stood Friday at 334,86 points, compared with 338.61 the previous week.
GOLD: Gold prices struck 551.65 dollars per ounce Monday, the highest level since January 1981, owing to geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and reports that China may increase its reserves of the metal.
SILVER: Silver prices rose slightly to maintain a position above 9.0 dollars per ounce after gains by gold and base metals.
"At the moment I think silver is at more risk of a correction lower in the short term," said James Moore, an analyst with the specialist website TheBullionDesk.com.
PALLADIUM AND PLATINUM: Platinum prices hit the best level for almost 26 years this week, while palladium prices firmed.
The price of platinum fired higher Friday, hitting 1,030.50 dollars per ounce -- the highest level since March 1980.
BASE METALS: Copper, lead and zinc prices hammered historic highs thanks to keen investment demand, while aluminium also soared.
On Tuesday, copper hit a historic 4,630 dollars per tonne -- the highest since copper was first listed in its current format in 1870.
The price of copper, used for electrical wiring and plumbing, had leapt by some 50 per cent during 2005.
Lead and zinc smashed records Friday, striking 1,215.15 dollars per tonne and 2,079 dollars per tonne respectively.
Aluminium hit a 17-year high the same day of 2,395 dollars per tonne.
OIL: Crude prices steadied over the week after hitting three-month highs Thursday, owing to fears of supply disruptions in major oil producers Iran and Nigeria.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, struck 65.05 dollars -- the highest point since October 3 -- before succumbing to profit-taking.
Crude futures had Thursday climbed to three-month peaks on concern Iran, the world's fourth biggest exporter, would cut supply if it is referred to the UN Security Council over the restart of its nuclear enrichment programme.
RUBBER: Rubber prices gained as rain hampered output in major producer Thailand.
"The rubber market in particular is being led by very poor supply fundamentals. Continued protracted rains... have not given stocks a chance to build," said Rashid Ahmed, a trader with Corrie MacColl.
On TOCOM, Tokyo's commodity exchange, natural rubber for February delivery climbed to 213 yen Friday, from 204.30 yen from the previous week.
COCOA: Cocoa prices eased slightly, with "short-term speculators dominating trade", Sucden analysts said.
The price of cocoa in London had hit 930 pounds per tonne on January 4, the best level since June last year. The same day, New York prices had struck 1,548 dollars per tonne, the highest level since September 2005.
COFFEE: Coffee prices hit the highest point for seven months in New York, before succumbing to profit-taking, which hit prices also in London.
"New York Arabica futures have gained ground recently on fund buying as interest in commodities in general continues to grow," Sucden analysts said.
Arabica struck 121.60 cents per pound Monday, the highest peak since June 2005.
SUGAR: Sugar prices traded close to multi-year high points in New York on continued speculative buying, while prices fell strongly in London.
Prices had hit highest level for 11 years in New York and a nine-year record in London the previous week.
By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for March delivery fell to 334.50 dollars, from 359 dollars the previous week.
GRAINS AND SOYA: Soya and grain prices retreated as rains returned to leading exporter Argentina.
Next week, investment funds will continue to monitor changing weather patterns in Argentina and southern Brazil, according to Victor Lespinasse, analyst with AG Edwards.
Rainy weather is favourable to crop growth, but increased supply results in falling prices.
On the LIFFE, the price of a tonne of wheat for March delivery dipped to 70 pounds late Friday, from 71.90 pounds a week earlier.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, the price of wheat for March delivery fell to 3.345 US dollars per bushel Friday, from 3.373 dollars.
COTTON: The price of cotton advanced.
Speculative interest could drive New York prices beyond 56 cents in the coming weeks, said Fimat analyst Philippe Pesque.
On the New York Cotton Exchange (NYCE), the March contract rose to 55.44 US cents per pound Friday, compared with 54.69 cents a week earlier.
WOOL: Prices rose, climbing despite subdued demand as the wool market cranked back into action following a lengthy festive holiday.
"The Australian wool market finished this week on a positive note with prices 2.1 per cent higher, on average, when sales resumed... after the Christmas break," the Australian Wool Industries Secretariat said.