Mon, 07 Mar 2005

From: AFP

Brent crude surges to historic high point in London

Perrine Faye Agence France-Presse/London

World oil prices soared this week with Brent crude rocketing to US$53 a barrel here for the first time in its history, and New York testing record levels above $55 on supply concerns.

The Commodities Research Bureau's index of 17 commodities jumped to 308.74 points on Friday from 297.67 points a week earlier. It was the highest level since 1981, driven by soaring oil prices.

Gold: Gold futures reached a new two-month high point on Monday, amid unrest in the Middle East, a stronger U.S. dollar and surging oil prices, before easing later in the week.

An ounce of gold climbed to $436.55 on Monday, its highest level since Dec. 31.

"The weekends terrorist activities in Israel and Iraq has prompted some interest" as the metal benefited from its "safe- haven" status, said James Moore, an analyst for the specialist website

A weakening dollar makes gold -- which is priced in the U.S. currency on world markets -- cheaper to buyers using other currencies.

On the London Bullion Market, gold prices fell to $433.45 per ounce at the late fixing on Friday from $434.25 a week earlier.

Silver: Silver prices fell, losing ground with other metals.

"With base metals hitting new highs and gold steady around $430 an ounce, silver's recent performance has been somewhat disappointing, off 30 U.S.cents from its recent $7.50 highs," UBS analyst John Reade said.

Prices reached $7.55 per ounce on Feb. 22 in London, the highest level for over two months.

Silver stood at $7.170 per ounce at the late fixing on Friday from $7.245 a week earlier.

Platinum and Palladium: Palladium prices leapt to three-month high points on speculative buying while sister metal platinum rose also.

Traders meanwhile digested news that Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorized the release of data on state platinum stocks.

"The government said the disclosure... would make the market for these metals 'more transparent, predictable, and attractive to foreign investment," Barclays Capital analyst Kamal Naqvi said.

By Friday, platinum prices rose to $866.50 per ounce on the London Platinum and Palladium Market from $864 a week earlier.

Palladium prices stood at $208 per ounce from $182 the previous week -- the highest level since Dec. 3.

Base Metals: Base metals made solid gains following drops in inventories and strong demand by China.

Aluminum and copper meanwhile remained close to 10 and 16 year high points.

Falling stock levels in London and Shanghai, combined with continued high levels of demand by China pointed to "fundamentally very robust market conditions", Ingrid Sternby said.

By Thursday, three-month copper prices stood at $3,204 per ton on the London Metal Exchange from $3,190 the previous on Friday.

Oil: Oil prices broke historic records in London on Thursday, and surged higher in New York, amid a continued cold snap in parts of the northern hemisphere, strong global demand and with less than two weeks until the next OPEC meeting.

The price of Brent North Sea crude oil rocketed to $53 per barrel and crude futures approached record levels in New York above $55.

In London, the Brent contract surged $1.76 to $53 per barrel during on Thursday trading on strong buying following reports of a decline in U.S. natural gas inventories and bullish OPEC comments.

The London price smashed the previous record high of $51.94 per barrel reached last Oct. 27.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, meanwhile soared as much as $2.15 to $55.20 a barrel in early deals on Thursday, the first time it had risen above $55 since late October.

New York crude hit an historic record $55.67 on Oct. 25.

Oil prices could surge to as high as $80 a barrel within the next two years but such a level would not last long, OPEC's acting secretary general was quoted as saying on Thursday.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was due to meet on March 16 in Isfahan, Iran, where most analysts expect the cartel to maintain the current output of 27 million barrels per day with prices so high.

By Friday New York's light sweet crude for April delivery jumped to $53.45 per barrel from $51.30 the previous week.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for April delivery jumped to $52.10 from $49.10 a week earlier.

Rubber: Rubber prices rose this week owing to the continued low harvest season in leading producer countries.

"The underlying reason is still wintering," one London trader said.

"There is very little production coming out from lots of the growing regions."

Wintering refers to the low harvest season during February and April in major producers Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

In Osaka, the RSS 3 April contract climbed to 138.80 US cents on Friday from 138.10 U.S. cents a week earlier.

Singapore's RSS 3 April contract stood at 132.50 U.S. cents on Friday, compared with 129.75 U.S. cents last week.