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Trump Tariffs Rattle Commodity Markets

Oil prices fell last week, as did gold, copper and iron ore as fears about the Trump tariff tantrum battered investor confidence.

Oil futures rose Friday but they still ended the week with big losses.

April West Texas Intermediate crude futures in New York rose 10 cents, or 0.2%, to $US61.09 barrel on Friday, leaving it with a weekly fall of close to 4%.

In Europe the global crude benchmark, May Brent crude futures rose 25 cents, or 0.4%, to $US64.08 a barrel leaving it down nearly 5% for the week.

Oil held on to gains after oil-field services firm Baker Hughes said the number of rigs drilling for oil rose by one to 800 this week (after a rise of one last week). That is still the highest number of rigs for more than two years.

A weaker dollar on Friday helped stop the rot seen on Wednesday and especially Thursday and the US dollar index fell 0.3%, helping bolster commodity prices.

On Wednesday, the US Energy Information Administration reported that crude oil stockpiles rose by 3 million barrels in the week ended February 23. Weekly US production is now topping 10.3 million barrels a day and is in all time record country.

Iron ore prices slipped closer to $78 per tonne on Friday after both the futures and steel markets weakened.

The Metal Bulletin’s 62% Fe Iron Ore Index was $US78.34 per tonne cfr Qingdao, down by $US1.05 a tonne from Thursday and 48 cents from the $US78.82 of the previous Friday.

Metals were volatile in a rebound on Friday, as traders assessed the potential impact of the Trump tariffs, including the long-run impact on economic growth.

Comex April gold rose $US17.20, or 1.3%, to $US1,322.50 an ounce a day after they had fallen to their lowest levels of the year on Thursday, after recording the first monthly loss in February since last October.

Gold future lost around 0.6% over last week.

Comex May silver rose 15 cents, or 0.9%, to $US16.430 an ounce. Silver had touched a two-month low on Thursday and closed down less than 1%.

In other metals, May copper rose 0.3% to $US3.1325 a pound on Comex, but ended down 3.6% from the week before.

And in London LME metals prices were mostly mixed to weaker in the wake of the Trump bombast.

Copper ended down 0.4% at $US6,898 a tonne, zinc lost 1.% to $US3,355, lead closed up 0.1% at $US2,448, tin ended down 0.8% at $US21,475 while nickel ended down 0.2% at $US13,450 a tonne.


View More Articles By Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

At the AFR he was a finance writer, Finance Editor, News Editor and Chief of Staff. At the Nine Network he was supervising producer of Business Sunday for more than 16 years. He has also written for other online and analogue print publications here and overseas.



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