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Commodities

Gold prices weaken, eye break below $2,300 as rate jitters persist

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Investing.com– Gold prices fell in Asian trade on Thursday and were close to breaking below key levels as waning safe haven demand and the prospect of higher-for-longer U.S. interest rates battered the yellow metal.

Bullion prices were nursing a sharp drop from record highs over the past week, as a potential conflict between Iran and Israel did not escalate as markets were fearing. This largely dented safe haven demand for the yellow metal.

Waning safe haven demand left gold vulnerable to headwinds from U.S. rates, given that higher-for-longer rates push up the opportunity cost of investing in bullion.

fell 0.1% to $2,313.62 an ounce, while expiring in June fell 0.6% to $2,325.05 an ounce by 00:26 ET (04:26 GMT). 

Strength in the – which remained close to recent five-month peaks, also pressured metal prices.

Gold eyes $2,300 support, more rate cues awaited 

Spot prices were now close to breaking below the $2,300 an ounce support level, which could herald more near-term losses for the yellow metal.

But gold’s next leg of movement is expected to be driven largely by more upcoming cues on the U.S. economy and interest rates.

First-quarter U.S. data due later on Thursday is expected to show whether the world’s largest economy remained resilient in the beginning of 2024. 

data- which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge- is likely to have a bigger impact on gold, given that it ties directly into the central bank’s outlook on interest rates.

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Hotter-than-expected U.S. inflation readings and hawkish Fed signals saw traders largely price out expectations for a June rate cut- a scenario that presents more near-term pressure for gold prices.

Other precious metals also retreated on Thursday after tumbling from recent peaks over the past week. fell 0.3% to $910.30 an ounce, while fell 1% to $27.078 an ounce.

Copper prices cool further from 2-year highs

Among industrial metals, copper prices fell further from recent two-year highs as weak economic readings and fears of high interest rates somewhat offset optimism over tighter markets. 

on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.2%  to $9,773.0 a ton, while fell 0.1% to $4.4510 a pound. Both contracts were below two-year highs hit earlier in April, after stricter western sanctions on Russian metal exports pointed to tighter markets. 

But this optimism was dulled by top copper producer Chile signaling that state-owned copper miner Coldeco will increase output in 2024.

Concerns over steady demand also weighed after U.S. purchasing managers index data read weaker than expected for April, with the back in contraction territory. 

Commodities

Analysts are out with their updated copper prices forecast for 2024 

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Following the recent rally, the spotlight is on , and analysts have been busy assessing their forecasts for copper prices, reflecting a complex set of factors from supply constraints and geopolitical factors to evolving demand trends in various sectors.

Copper prices rally

While copper prices slumped on Wednesday, the metal has experienced a significant rally over the past couple of months, with prices hitting record highs on Monday this week. 

Copper, which is a vital industrial metal whose price movements have significant implications for global markets and industries, hit an intraday record of  $5.1990 a pound or $11,460 a tonne. This year, copper is up 27%. 

The rally was fueled in part by traders betting on a soft supply of the metal in the coming months as miners’ production cuts began to take effect. 

Copper prices forecast for 2024

Despite the rally, analysts at Citi believe the price of copper is set to consolidate over the next three to six months.

The bank’s forecast for a stabilisation in prices comes with LME prices currently trading close to their zero to three-month point price target of $10,500 a ton after reaching their six to 12-month target of $11k a ton last week.

Citi believes “investors have been right to push copper up from $8-8.5k/t to $10.5k/t over the past 3-4 months.”

However, they explained they think machines are likely a large share of the ~$30bn of copper fund length additions this year. 

“In the coming months, some of this length is likely to turn over to consumer hedgers, along with macro and commodity-specific hedge funds, for whom we consider sub-$10k/t as inexpensive,” said Citi.”Indeed, physical indicators (such as visible inventories, spreads and premiums) aren’t going to look great for some time as China semi-fabricators de-stock refined metal and as global scrap dealers de-stock scrap.”

The current price levels are seen as sufficient to avoid huge deficits in the copper market this year as the scrap market responds.

Meanwhile, JPMorgan analysts believe pricing expectations are overshooting the fundamentals while copper stocks are currently trading at fair value. 

“Copper has been on a tear thus far this year, rising 27% YTD amid what we view as relatively overdone refined supply-side concerns,” said JPMorgan. “This has translated into strong re-rating for copper-levered stocks FCX (+20% YTD) and TECK (+24%) with near-term investor sentiment now seemingly more bearish relative to the start of the year.”

“Pricing sentiment appears to have overshot underlying fundamentals, which are more sound than recent pricing momentum infers, largely driven by resilient China refined supply and seemingly elastic demand,” they add.

The bank also notes that the latest copper forward curve now exceeds both their base case and JPM’s Commodities team’s copper price forecast through the remainder of the year and into next year, suggesting further upside potential should bullish expectations materialize.

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Commodities

Oil creeps back up after three days of losses

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By Paul Carsten

LONDON (Reuters) -Oil prices crept up on Thursday, clawing back some of the previous three days’ losses despite the U.S. Federal Reserve entertaining further tightening of interest rates if inflation remains sticky, a move that could hurt oil demand.

futures were up 51 cents, or 0.6%, at $82.41 a barrel by 1121 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) futures were also up 51 cents, or 0.7%, at $78.08. Both benchmarks fell more than 1% on Wednesday for their third straight day of losses.

Minutes released on Wednesday from the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting showed the U.S. central bank discussed the potential to raise interest rates in the face of continued stubborn inflation.

“Various participants mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further should risks to inflation materialize in a way that such an action became appropriate,” the Fed minutes said.

Higher interest rates boost borrowing costs, crunching funds that could boost economic growth and oil demand in the world’s largest oil consuming nation.

Also weighing on the market, stocks rose by 1.8 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration, compared with an estimated draw of 2.5 million barrels.

Globally, physical crude markets have been pressured by soft refinery demand and ample supply.

“Recent market softness has come on the back of weaker data, including rising oil inventories, tepid demand and refinery margin weakness and the increasing risk of run cuts,” Citi analysts said in a note on Thursday.

Russia said it exceeded its OPEC+ production quota in April for “technical reasons” and will soon present to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretariat its plan to compensate for the error, the Russian Energy Ministry said late on Wednesday.

OPEC+, which groups together OPEC and allies led by Russia, will meet on June 1 to decide on production cut levels.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view of a French oil Esso refinery by night in Fos-sur-Mer, France, May 13, 2024. REUTERS/Manon Cruz/File Photo

“June’s meeting is seen as difficult in being able to tighten the market further and there is a growing consensus that the best the cartel will come up with is a rollover of current voluntary cuts,” said John Evans of oil broker PVM.

“This may show results in the autumn, but for now it will do little to assuage a market lacking in confidence.”

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Oil prices rebound; US rate jitters, surprise inventory build weigh

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Investing.com– Oil prices rose Thursday, rebounding after three consecutive losing sessions, although sentiment remains pressured by persistent concerns over high for longer U.S. interest rates as well as an unexpected build in U.S. inventories.

At 09:10 ET (13:10 GMT),  rose 1.1% to $82.77 a barrel, while rose 1.1% to $78.44 a barrel. 

Both benchmarks fell more than 1% on Wednesday for their third straight day of losses. 

US rate jitters grow after Fed minutes, policymaker comments 

The minutes of the Fed’s late-April meeting showed waning confidence among policymakers that inflation was easing as expected, potentially necessitating interest rates remaining at elevated levels for a lengthy period of time.

A string of Fed officials also warned of such a scenario in recent weeks, and that any potential plans for rate cuts will be largely contingent on confidence in inflation coming back within the central bank’s 2% annual target.

Several policymakers also said they were open to raise interest rates further should the need arise, the minutes showed. 

The minutes, along with the comments, boosted the dollar on Wednesday, which in turn pressured oil prices.

The prospect of high U.S. rates also spurred persistent concerns that global economic activity will cool substantially in 2024, pressuring oil demand. 

US inventories see unexpected build 

Fears of sluggish demand and well-supplied markets were furthered by official data on Wednesday showing that U.S. saw an unexpected build in the week to May 17. 

also grew, while saw a smaller-than-expected draw. 

The reading set a dour tone ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, which usually marks the beginning of the travel-heavy summer season, which is expected to boost demand. 

OPEC+ meeting in spotlight 

On the supply front, markets were awaiting a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) in early-June, where the cartel could potentially extend its current run of production cuts.

“The weakness in oil prices increases the likelihood that OPEC+ members fully roll over their additional voluntary supply cuts into the second half of the year,” ING said, in a note.

OPEC+ oil producers are making voluntary output cuts totalling about 2.2 million barrels per day for the first half of 2024, led by Saudi Arabia rolling over an earlier voluntary cut.

These curbs come on top of earlier reductions announced in various steps since late 2022 and bring the total pledged cuts to about 5.86 million barrels per day, equal to just under 6% of daily world demand.

(Ambar Warrick contributed to this article.)

 

 

 

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