Commodity prices rise on Algeria unrest
Commodity prices mostly rose this week, with oil prices supported by the Algeria hostage drama, while metals won support from positive Chinese and US economic data.
OIL: Crude futures rose, supported by unrest in energy exporter Algeria, better-than-expected Chinese economic data and signs of improving crude demand in the United States, analysts said.
The Algeria violence has ‘‘put a geopolitical risk premium into pricing,’’ said Victor Shum, an analyst at research group IHS Purvin and Gertz.
In Algeria, an exporter of oil and gas, hostages were still being held at a remote gas field on Friday after a deadly rescue attempt. An Algerian security source said some of the hostage-takers were still holed up in the main gas production facility after troops seized a nearby housing compound in an air and ground assault on Thursday.
Islamist militants had seized hundreds of hostages at the field deep in the Sahara, purportedly to avenge a French-led offensive in neighbouring Mali.
The gas field is jointly operated by British oil giant BP, Norway’s Statoil and state-run Algerian energy firm Sonatrach. Oil prices closed up more than a dollar, boosted by positive US economic data and fears linked to the hostage-taking, according to traders. The United States this week also announced an unexpected drop to its crude inventories, indicating firmer demand by the world’s biggest consumer of oil.
‘‘A surprise fall in crude oil inventories has seen US oil prices jump higher,’’ said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets trading group.
BP this week said that the United States would become almost self-sufficient for its energy needs by 2030, boosted by shale oil and gas output and slowing demand.
‘‘By 2030, increasing production and moderating demand will result in the United States being 99-per cent self-sufficient in net energy; in 2005 it was only 70-percent self-sufficient,’’ BP said in its latest Energy Outlook report.
The oil market reacted also to economic data out of China, choosing to focus on gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the final quarter of 2012, which showed an uptick after seven straight quarters of slowing expansion.
Beijing said the world’s number two economy expanded 7.8 per cent in 2012, better than the government target of 7.5 per cent, marking a second straight year of easing on weakness in key overseas markets.
It also said GDP grew 7.9 per cent in the October-December period, snapping seven straight quarters of slowing growth. China is the world’s biggest consumer of energy.
By Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for delivery in February climbed to $US95.38 a barrel from $US93.25 a week earlier.
On London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for March stood at $US110.85 a barrel compared with $US110.19 for the February contract the previous week.
PRECIOUS METALS: Platinum prices hit three-month highs at $US1,702.05 an ounce as top global platinum miner Anglo American Platinum warned it would axe 14,000 jobs in a broad restructuring of its South African operations, prompting workers to launch a new strike
.Months after being swept up in deadly strikes that crippled South Africa’s key mining sector, Amplats on Tuesday said it planned to close four shafts and sell a mine considered unsustainable.
‘‘This development was not unexpected, due to high and increasing costs at South African mines,’’ said Ross Strachan, an analyst from Capital Economics. ‘‘Indeed, we have noted for some time that platinum prices were likely to recover in 2013, despite our gloomy prognosis for demand, as rising energy and labour costs in South Africa would lead to mines and shafts closing.’’
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold advanced to $US1,688.50 an ounce from $US1,657.50 a week earlier. Silver rose to $31.82 an ounce from $30.67.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum climbed to $US1,677 an ounce from $USs1,626. Palladium increased to $US722 an ounce from $US693.5.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals mostly climbed.
‘‘After a disappointing first half of the week, metal prices are taking a turn for the better thanks to good economic data from the US and China,’’ analysts at Commerzbank said in a note to clients.
By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to $US8,122 a tonne from $US8,093 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminium slipped to $US2,066 a tonne from $2,110. Three-month lead edged up to $US2,328 a tonne from $US2,308.
Three-month tin climbed to $USS25,150 a tonne from $uS24,750. Three-month nickel increased to $US17,710 a tonne from $US17,425.