Copper prices reach record high; crude oil declines

| March 20, 2006 | 0 Comments

Base metals prices stayed high on Monday on inventory and availability concerns, while precious metals prices were steady to slightly lower on the day. Crude oil prices, meanwhile, were down.

Three-month copper hit $5,165.5 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange and traders expected more highs to be reached soon, especially if there are major supply disruptions. Inventories were at a total of around 200,000 tonnes - four weeks’ supply - at the three main exchanges, the LME, the Shanghai Futures Exchange, and the Comex.

Zinc remained at $2,485 on the LME, the price reached on Friday, as Xtrata said it might close its McArthur River underground mine in Australia if that nation’s authorities do not approve the conversion of the mine into an open cut mine.

In precious metals, gold held steady at $554.30/$555.20 per troy ounce early in the day in New York, while silver dropped 10 cents from a 22-year high reached Friday but still hovered near that record as it traded at $10.33/$10.36 per troy ounce.

Despite continuing worries about supply disruptions in Nigeria after a new attack on a pipeline there, crude oil prices were down as US crude inventories were close to seven-year highs. In late afternoon trade on the International Petroleum Exchange in London, Brent crude May contracts dropped $1 to $62.26 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost $1.47 to $61.30 per barrel in early afternoon trade. With the April contract due to expire at the end of the day on Tuesday, May WTI was down $1.20 to $63.00 per barrel.

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