InterOil leads in new financial year

INTEROIL stocks have made the biggest move this week, while market uncertainty has marked the start of a new financial year amid the ongoing global financial crisis.

This week has seen official unemployment figures in the US reach 9.5%, the highest rate since 1983.

Surprisingly, the US dollar has held up relatively well and as a result Asia-Pacific benchmark Singapore Tapis crude closed $US4.45 lower overnight to $70.87 a barrel.

Tapis was threatening to reach a new high for the year, with the record price so far for 2009 set on June 19 when it closed at $75.79/bbl.

InterOil has benefited well from the oil price action this week and there is anticipation for the company's upcoming conference call on July 7, which will provide an update on a potential farm-in to its Elk-Antelope gas field in PNG's Gulf Province.

Shares in InterOil are up almost 20% for the week.

Highlands Pacific has also performed well, with its shares climbing nearly 23%, as the Ramu nickel-cobalt project continues on schedule for a start-up by year-end.

The company also has a minor stake in Xstrata's Frieda River project, which has found more massive three-digit intersections.

PNG-related stocks have been touched by acquisition activity, with Rift Oil possibly looking at a takeover by Talisman Energy in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, commodity prices on the London Metal Exchange were generally weak with copper for three-month delivery closing 1% lower overnight at $5035 per tonne, while nickel fell 0.3% to $16,450/t and zinc dipped 1.4% to $1572/t.

"The complex isn't seeing the kind of ramp-up in economic activity that could deliver another leg higher price-wise, especially after the blistering run it already has had in the second quarter," MF Global analyst Ed Meir told Dow Jones Newswires.

There was also news out of China earlier in the week suggesting commodity buying is tipped to slow.

A report from Caijing magazine said that China had been stockpiling metals to take advantage of lower prices, and with stocks of aluminium, zinc, copper and titanium at certain levels, this stockpiling process was now complete.

The magazine reportedly quoted a National Development and Reform Commission industry department official.

On the precious metal front, spot gold hit an almost three-week high of $940.25 per ounce earlier in the week before dipping to close at $929.30/oz overnight.

"The metal is following the foreign exchange markets very closely, failing to find a direction on its own and remaining confined to the $920-950 range," Dow Jones quoted an MKS Finance report as saying.

In today's trade, spot gold was 0.4% higher at $932.9/oz.

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