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Commodities

Oil steady as investors hold for Fed meet, inflation data

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By Paul Carsten

LONDON (Reuters) -Oil prices were largely steady on Tuesday, as investors waited for U.S. and China inflation data and the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting to see how changing prices could hit demand.

futures fell 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $81.49 per barrel by 1121 GMT, easing after a recovery from a close of $77.52 a week earlier. That close, the lowest since February, came as investors fretted about oversupply and low demand through the rest of 2024.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped 18 cents, or 0.2%, to $77.56.

Prices had climbed about 3% to a one-week high on Monday, buoyed by expectations that the Northern Hemisphere summer vacation season will boost fuel demand this summer. Some analysts said the gain was likely to be short-lived given the prospect of higher interest rates remaining due to stronger-than-desired inflation.

The release of U.S. consumer price index data for May and the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting are both scheduled for Wednesday.

“More conviction may be needed in oil prices for a more sustained recovery with a move above the $83.00 level, given that the broader trend for oil prices still leans on the downside with a series of higher highs since April,” IG market strategist Yeap Jun Rong said.

Traders were also cautious ahead of the release of macroeconomic data from China on Wednesday.

“The potential adverse macro driver for oil prices will be China’s inflation data that will be out tomorrow,” said OANDA senior market analyst Kelvin Wong.

Wong said that if China’s Producer Price Index disappoints by falling 2% year on year or more, “it suggests that the deflationary risk spiral remains entrenched in China which in turn may likely see less demand for oil.”

Deflation can see purchases dry up as businesses and consumers expect to pay less later as prices fall, hitting economic activity and dampening oil demand.

Meanwhile, falling Saudi crude exports to China for a third straight month also put further pressure on prices.

© Reuters. Crude oil storage tanks are seen in an aerial photograph at the Cushing oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, U.S. April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Drone Base/File Photo

But the prospect that the U.S. will move to build up its strategic reserves if WTI stays below $79 provided oil price support, said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, president of NS Trading, a unit of Nissan (OTC:) Securities.

The U.S. could hasten the rate of replenishing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as maintenance on the stockpile is completed by the end of the year, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told Reuters last week. It wants to buy back oil at about $79 a barrel.

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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