Commodities markets summary
Market watch top headlines
A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:
Global oil prices headed higher, driven by heightened political tensions in the Middle East after bomb attacks against Syria and Israelis.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for August, on Wednesday finished at $US89.87 a barrel, a gain of 65 US cents from Tuesday's closing price.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in September jumped $US1.16 to close at $US105.16 a barrel in London trade.
Crude futures won support from worsening violence in Syria, stoking concerns over supplies from the oil-rich Middle East.
Rebels claimed a bomb attack in Damascus that killed three of President Bashar al-Assad's security chiefs.
The market also was underpinned by concerns over a deadly bomb blast Wednesday targeting Israeli tourists at an airport in Bulgaria, killing seven people.
Gold futures have retreated amid a stronger US dollar and after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke again didn't commit to fresh liquidity measures in his testimony to Congress.
The most actively traded contract, for August delivery, on Wednesday fell $US18.70, or 1.2 per cent, to settle at $US1,570.80 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold traders had hoped to see more easy money from the central bank. Past liquidity initiatives puffed up gold prices to record highs as fears of inflation saw investors rush to buy hard assets like gold.
Settlements: Aug delivery gold finished at $US1,570.80, down $US18.70; September silver ended at $US27.095, down 22.1 US cents; October platinum settled at $US1,404.20, down $US16.50; September palladium closed at $US577.55, down $US5.80.
Base metals have closed mostly higher on the London Metal Exchange (LME), boosted late in the session by better-than-expected US housing data.
At the PM kerb close on Wednesday, LME three-month copper was 0.6 per cent higher at $US7,635 a metric ton. Aluminum was up 0.3 per cent on the day at $US1,909/ton.
Base metals strengthened in "pure macro trading" on Wednesday, helped by strong US housing starts data and stock market gains, said VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.
Construction of new homes in the US increased 6.9 per cent in June from May, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
Compared with a year earlier, housing starts were up 23.6 per cent.