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Commodities prices decline despite news

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by Elaine Frei

After early gains, crude oil prices were lower on Tuesday as uncertainty remains over exactly what news will come out of an emergency meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries later in the week in Qatar. While earlier reports said that proposed production cuts will come out of actual production rather than official quotas, it is unclear whether the rumored agreement will hold. There was also uncertainty surrounding remarks out of OPEC on Monday which hinted that the cuts expected to come out of this week’s meeting could be followed by further reductions in production in December.

November contracts for Brent crude dropped 40 cents after first concerns over the OPEC statement declined to trade at $61.26 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery was 64 cents lower to $59.30 per barrel.

Metals prices were lower on Tuesday. Gold dropped 0.8 percent to $587.90 per troy ounce even though tensions over the situation in North Korea remain high. Among base metals, both zinc and nickel prices hit new highs before retreating for losses on the session. Zinc traded as high as $4,020 per tonne but later fell 2.4 percent below yesterday’s close to $3,865 per tonne, while nickel dropped 1.4 percent to $31,400 per tonne after trading at $32,050 per tonne earlier in the session.

Supply disruptions in Bolivia and Indonesia did not stop tin from dropping 9.1 percent to $10,000 per tonne. While 20 smelters in Indonesia remained closed by government action due to improper permits, the news out of Bolivia was not quite as dire as first thought. Boliva’s vice-president said that government threats to nationalize mining there only pertained to new developments and that no current operations would be seized. Meanwhile, copper dropped 1.6 percent to $7,640 even though an Indonesian smelter will remain out of production until the middle of December.

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News posted: October 17, 2006

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