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Commodities

Oil steadies as OPEC+ restraint balances interest rate concerns

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By Alex Lawler

LONDON (Reuters) -Global oil prices steadied on Tuesday as the prospect of OPEC+ maintaining oil supply curbs at its June 2 meeting and hopes of strong U.S. summer fuel demand balanced concern about higher-for-longer U.S. interest rates.

On Monday, oil rose over 1% in muted trade owing to public holidays in Britain and the U.States, with hopes of strong fuel demand with the start of the U.S. summer driving and vacation season providing support.

The July contract for , the global benchmark, rose 12 cents, or 0.1%, to $83.22 a barrel by 1155 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $78.79, up $1.07, or 1.4%, from Friday’s close, having traded through a U.S. holiday to mark Memorial Day without a settlement.

“Oil has been in a recovery mode lately, perhaps driven by expectations of strong fuel demand due to the start of the summer driving and vacation season,” said Charalampos Pissouros, analyst at broker XM.

Worries over U.S. interest rates remaining elevated for a longer period contributed to a weekly loss for crude last week. Higher rates boost the cost of borrowing, which can dampen economic activity and demand for oil.

“Despite the indisputably brighter mood seen in the last two days, interest rate concerns will most plausibly act as a (brake) on further attempts to send oil prices meaningfully higher in the immediate future,” said Tamas Varga of broker PVM.

Nonetheless, despite the general view that high interest rates could result in softer oil demand growth, “real-time mobility data indicates oil demand growth is still broadly healthy,” UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo wrote in a client note.

On the air travel front, U.S. seat numbers on domestic flights for May rose by 5% month on month and almost 6% year on year to slightly above 90 million, data from flight analytics firm OAG showed, surpassing 2019 levels.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of the logo of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) outside its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

Coming up is the online meeting of OPEC+ producers on Sunday, where traders and analysts are expecting 2.2 million barrels per day of voluntary production cuts to stay in place.

“It is a fair assumption that no changes in production levels will be forthcoming,” PVM’s Varga added regarding the OPEC+ meeting.

Commodities

BofA: Gold could hit $3,000/oz over the next 12-18 months

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Bank of America analysts predict a potential surge in gold prices, with estimates reaching $3,000 per ounce within the next 12-18 months. However, they acknowledge current market flows don’t necessarily support this price point.

BofA explains that reaching $3,000 hinges on increased non-commercial demand. They believe a Federal Reserve rate cut could trigger this, leading to inflows into physically backed gold ETFs and higher trading volumes.

Central bank purchases are another key factor. “Ongoing central bank purchases are also important, and a push to reduce the share of USD in foreign exchange portfolios will likely prompt more central bank gold buying,” BofA says.

This shift is driven by gold’s status as a long-term value store, hedge against inflation, and effective portfolio diversifier.

BofA’s model considers various factors, including mine output, recycled gold, and jewelry demand. However, to estimate a balanced market price, they also need to factor in investment demand. Currently, non-commercial purchases support an average price of $2,200 per ounce year-to-date. A significant increase could push prices towards $3,000.

The report highlights a recent World Gold Council survey indicating central banks’ intention to purchase more gold. This aligns with the growing concerns around US Treasury market fragility, potentially prompting further diversification into gold by both central banks and private investors.

While a Treasury market breakdown isn’t BofA’s base case, they acknowledge it as a potential risk. “Under this scenario, gold may fall initially on broad liquidations but should then gain,” they conclude.

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Commodities

Oil edges higher as demand expectations offset dollar strength

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By Paul Carsten

LONDON (Reuters) -Oil prices firmed slightly on Monday as traders weighed support from expected summer demand and geopolitical tensions against a stronger dollar.

futures were up 22 cents, or 0.3%, at $85.46 a barrel by 1053 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 19 cents, or 0.2%, at $80.92. Both benchmarks gained about 3% last week for their second consecutive weekly gains.

“The chief underlying reason behind the price strength … is the growing confidence that global oil inventories will inevitably plunge during the summer in the northern hemisphere,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM, referring to seasonal demand for oil products.

Geopolitical risks in the Middle East and a ramp-up in Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian refineries are also underpinning oil prices.

EU countries on Monday agreed a new package of sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine, including a ban on reloading Russian liquefied (LNG) in the EU for further shipment to third countries.

However, a strengthening U.S. currency has made dollar-denominated commodities less attractive for holders of other currencies.

“The U.S. dollar … appears to have broken higher following better U.S. PMI data on Friday night and political concerns ahead of the French election,” said IG analyst Tony Sycamore.

The , measuring performance against six major currencies, climbed on Friday and was up slightly on Monday after data showed U.S. business activity at a 26-month high in June.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of the Phillips 66 Company's Los Angeles Refinery (foreground), which processes domestic & imported crude oil into gasoline, aviation and diesel fuels, and storage tanks for refined petroleum products at the Kinder Morgan Carson Terminal (background), at sunset in Carson, California, U.S., March 11, 2022. Picture taken March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Bing Guan/File Photo

In Ecuador, state oil company Petroecuador has declared force majeure on deliveries of Napo heavy crude for export after the shutdown of a key pipeline and oil wells owing to heavy rain, sources said on Friday.

In the United States, the number of operating oil rigs fell by three to 485 last week, the lowest since January 2022, Baker Hughes said in a report on Friday.

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Commodities

Gold prices creep higher; strong dollar, inflation jitters weigh

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Investing.com– Gold prices rose slightly in Asian trade on Monday but remained within a tight trading range amid pressure from a stronger dollar, and as traders positioned for key U.S. inflation data this week. 

The yellow metal has hovered largely around the low $2,300 an ounce level for about two weeks, as uncertainty over U.S. interest rates kept traders averse to the yellow metal. 

rose 0.2% to $2,325.52 an ounce, while expiring in August rose 0.3% to $2,337.85 an ounce by 00:04 ET (04:04 GMT). 

Gold pressured by strong dollar, PCE data awaited 

Gold prices were pressured chiefly by strength in the , as the greenback hovered around its strongest levels since early-May. 

Strength in the dollar came as traders priced out expectations of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, especially after strong purchasing managers index data on Friday.

The reading pushed up fears that strength in the U.S. economy will give the Fed more headroom to keep rates high for longer.

Focus now turns largely to upcoming data, due on Friday. The reading is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, and is likely to factor into expectations for interest rate cuts. 

The PCE data is expected to show some cooling in inflation, but is expected to remain well above the Fed’s 2% annual target. 

The prospect of high for long interest rates bodes poorly for precious metals, given that it increases the opportunity cost of investing in non-yielding assets. 

Other precious metals retreated on Monday after remaining largely rangebound in recent weeks. fell 0.3% to $1,005.10 an ounce, while fell 0.2% to $29.895 an ounce.

Copper prices muted amid dollar strength, China jitters 

Strength in the dollar also weighed on industrial metal prices, with copper also coming under pressure from fears of  a trade war between China and the European Union.

Benchmark on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.1% to $9,677.50 a tonne, while one-month steadied at $4.4205 a pound.

Sentiment towards China, the world’s biggest copper importer, was battered after the EU imposed tariffs on Chinese imports of electric vehicles. The move drew ire from Beijing, with Chinese officials raising the possibility of retaliatory tariffs and a potential trade war between the two economic giants.

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