US data boosts commodities

ENCOURAGING economic data out of the US has led to commodity prices rising this week.

In addition, the US Labor Department said initial jobless claims last week dropped to the lowest level since early May while the International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for global growth this year.

The IMF said the world economy would expand 4.6% from 4.2%, the biggest gain since 2007.

This, together with a surprise drop in US oil stocks, sent oil prices rising to a one-week high last night with Singapore's Tapis closing just under $US78 a barrel.

The US Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report showed a 5 million barrel drop in oil inventories in the week ending July 2.

Total US fuel consumption increased 3.2% to 19.6MMbbl, the highest level since May 28 though petrol stocks increased by 1.3MMbbl.

"The 5 million barrel draw ... was an attention grabber," Energy Security Analysis Rick Mueller told Dow Jones Newswires.

"Any time you get a move as large as that, you get the market's attention."

While commodities started the week poorly, the trend has at least been positive on the London Metal Exchange, with the price line for both copper and nickel heading straight up.

Three-month nickel closed last Friday at $US19,200 per tonne, plunging to $18,750/t at close on Monday but heading straight back up through the week.

Nickel closed last night at $19,325/t.

Copper for three-month delivery followed much the same pattern. The metal closed last Friday at $6480/t, dropping to $6466 on Monday before steadily rising through the week to close yesterday at $6671.

Both commodities are still well off the 12-month highs reached in April, with copper reaching a closing high of $7971/t on April 6 and nickel closing at $27,595 on April 16.

Gold hasn't had a great week, however. The high point came on Monday, when the precious metal was trading at as much as $US1213.85, but dropped the next day to a week-low price of $1185.50.

Spot gold held around the mid $1190s for most of Thursday and is still near that mark.


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