Commodities Corner: Majors Broadly Higher for the Week

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Gold shook off Thursday’s sell-off on Friday and rose, as did silver, oil ended higher, copper also rose but iron ore prices dipped a touch.

Comex gold futures settled up 1.2% at $US1,813 an ounce in New York to be down 1.9% for the week.

Comex silver rose more than 3% on Friday to end the session at $US27.035 an ounce which all but wiped out a loss up to Thursday of the same size.

The madness of the Reddit mob’s assault on the silver market faded early in the week and the grown-ups were left trading the semi-precious metal.

The US economy only created 49,000 jobs in January, less than the 50,000 expected. December’s fall grew from 140,000 to 227,000 and more than 400,000 people stopped looking for work, taking the jobless rate down to 6.3% (it would have been 6.9% if many Americans had answered the questions about their unemployment status accurately, something that has been a problem since the pandemic hit in February-March).

Iron ore prices in the seaborne market dipped, according to Fastmarkets MB. The price of 62% Fe fines delivered to northern China eased $US1.02 to $US157.01. The price was down $US1.53 over the week.

The price of 65% Fe fines delivered to northern China (mostly from Brazil) fell $US1.60 a tonne to $US180.10. That was down $US2.50 a tonne over the week.

Comex copper prices rose 2.6% to $US3.64 a pound to be up 2.8% for the week (mostly due to Friday’s bounce)

That was after copper prices rose on the LME Friday, boosted by a weak dollar and hopes for stronger demand from more vaccinations in President Biden’s $US1.9 trillion package.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose 1.9% to $US7,970 a tonne at one stage. It ended around $US7,928 a tonne.

LME aluminium rose 1.3% to $US2,019 a tonne, zinc added 2% to $2,680, lead edged by 0.5% to $2,055, tin added 1.1% to $23,085 and nickel was up 2.7% at $18,115.


Oil prices rose on Friday, hitting their highest in a year and closing in on $US60 a barrel, supported by progress on President Biden’s $US1.9 trillion stimulus spending package and hopes supply curbs by producer group OPEC and its allies will stick.

Brent crude futures rose 50 cents to settle at $US59.34 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled up 62 cents at $US56.85 a barrel.

Brent hit its highest since February 20 last year at $US59.79. WTI crude reached $US57.29, its highest since January 22 last year.

WTI crude futures rose about 9% this week, the biggest percentage gain since October, in part due to US inventories last week dropping to levels last seen in March.

Brent rose about 6% for the week.

Even though US crude output has risen from May, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reckons growth will be sluggish this year.

The EIA forecast US crude output will not to top its 2019 record of 12.25 million barrels a day until 2023.

Production in 2020 tumbled 6.4% to 11.47 million bpd and it is running at just over 11 million barrels a day.

The EIA last week forecast global oil demand will rise by 5.6 million barrels a day after a 9 billion fall in 2020. Growth in output will slow in 2023 to 3.3 million barrels a day. That will bring demand back to pre-COVID levels.

The Baker Hughes rig count showed the US drilling rig count increased 8 units to reach 392 by Friday.That was down 398 units from the 790 rigs working this time a year ago.

US oil-directed rigs rose by 4 to 299, down from 676 rigs a year ago.

Gas rigs increased by 4 to 92 rigs, 19 fewer than were drilling for gas a year ago.


About 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.

View more articles by Glenn Dyer →