Oil strikes two-year high; soya scores record high

July 21, 2012 | 08:56
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Oil prices hit two-month highs this week, driven by Federal Reserve stimulus hopes and Middle East unrest, while soyabeans soared to a record high as US supplies were hit by drought.

An oil well in Maljamar, New Mexico. Oil prices hit two-month highs this week, driven by Federal Reserve stimulus hopes and Middle East unrest, while soyabeans soared to a record high as US supplies were hit by drought. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Other commodities enjoyed mixed fortunes as traders tracked the latest twists and turns in the eurozone debt crisis.

Markets were rattled on Friday by growing jitters over Spain, whose 10-year government bond yields hit danger levels above 7.0 percent.

OIL: World oil prices soared to their highest levels since May, before running into profit-taking.

Brent North Sea crude jumped as high as $108.18 per barrel and New York's light sweet crude for August hit $92.94 on Thursday.

"Prices have climbed ... primarily on the back of geopolitical risks," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

"The conflict in Syria, which has already been underway for 16 months, appears to be escalating," he said.

"The Iran conflict is also coming into increasingly sharp focus, Israel having blamed Iran for the attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria."

Oil rallied for most of this week, first on assurances by the US Federal Reserve that they would intervene should the economy falter and then on increasing tensions in Syria and Iran.

In late Thursday trade, crude jumped more than $2.50 as fighting raged in Damascus, while China and Russia vetoed UN Western resolutions on the conflict.

Meanwhile, Israel accused Iran and Lebanese group Hezbollah of carrying out a suicide bomb attack that killed six Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, raising speculation of a retaliatory attack.

By late Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in September jumped to $105.98 from $102.23 for the August contract a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for August rallied to $90.91 a barrel from $86.82.

GRAINS AND SOYA: Grains soared and soyabean rocketed to a record high as drought hampered supplies in key producer the United States.

"There is a buzz around soft commodities at the moment, largely focussed on corn, wheat, soyabean," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

He added: "This year's drought in the United States continues to hit soya and corn crops and further erode inventories while the Black Sea region and a lack of rain in South America is also hitting crop yields."

The US expected a record corn harvest this year owing to a big increase in cultivation but high temperatures and dry conditions in the past few weeks have stunted the crop.

"The worst US drought in 56 years ... is buoying grains prices," Barclays Capital analyst Sudakshina Unnikrishnan said.

The US Food and Agriculture Organization forecast on July 5 that grain output worldwide would be 23 million tonnes lower this year at 2.40 billion tonnes.

By Friday on the Chicago Board of Trade, maize for delivery in December jumped to $7.92 a bushel from $7.41 a week earlier.

Wheat for December was up to $9.34 from $8.72.

November-dated soyabean meal -- used in animal feed -- rallied to $16.87 a bushel from $15.48.

PRECIOUS METALS: Prices fell across the board in choppy trade.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold retreated to $1,576.25 an ounce from $1,587 a week earlier.

Silver eased to $27.07 an ounce from $27.48.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum dropped to $1,408 an ounce from $1,424.

Palladium slipped to $577 an ounce from $581 an ounce.

BASE METALS: Base metals were mixed on the uncertain global economic outlook.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months dipped to $7,603 a tonne from $7,658 a week earlier.

Three-month aluminium eased to $1,912 a tonne from $1,916.

Three-month lead advanced to $1,901 a tonne from $1,878.

Three-month tin climbed to $19,050 a tonne from $18,800.

Three-month nickel fell to $15,953 a tonne from $16,240.

Three-month zinc dropped to $1,852 a tonne from $1,872.

COFFEE: Coffee prices rallied as heavy rains in key producer Brazil sparked worries about crop quality, analysts said.

"Two straight days of rainfall in Brazil led to quality concerns, as too much rain can cause rot in coffee beans. The high precipitation contributed to the advances in coffee value," noted trade publication Public Ledger.

By Friday on NYBOT-ICE, Arabica for delivery in September was higher at 186.75 US cents a pound from 184.60 cents a week earlier.

On LIFFE, Robusta for delivery in September climbed to $2,180 a tonne from $2,039.

COCOA: Prices rose as traders tracked tight supplies in top producer Ivory Coast, which accounts for about 35 percent of global output of the commodity that is mostly used to make chocolate.

By Friday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in September advanced to £1,547 a tonne from £1,533 a week earlier.

In New York on the NYBOT-ICE, cocoa for September gained to $2,241 a tonne compared with $2,214.

SUGAR: Sugar prices gained ground.

By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for delivery in October rose to $636.30 from $613.60 a week earlier.

On NYBOT-ICE, the price of unrefined sugar for October increased to 23.20 US cents a pound compared with 22.70 cents the previous week.

RUBBER: Prices climbed, bolstered by tight supplies as wet weather in rubber planting countries hit output.

By Friday, the Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 rose to 292.25 US cents a kilo from 287.95 cents the previous week.


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