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AAP

2012-11-13

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:

ENERGY

Crude oil prices edged lower as traders remained cautious ahead of a looming US "fiscal cliff" and as Greece awaits an EU decision on release of a loan instalment to avoid default.

West Texas Intermediate for December on Monday shed 50 us cents from Friday's closing level to end the session at $US85.57 a barrel.

In London trade, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in December fell 33 us cents to $US109.07 a barrel.

The US Congress remained divided after last week's elections, with Democrats holding the Senate and Republicans the House of Representatives, underlining challenges in reaching compromise to avoid the year-end "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax hikes expected to tip the economy back into recession.

Greece also was a front-burner worry for the market, as eurozone finance ministers debate whether Athens has met conditions set by its international creditors to provide bailout funds to avert a disastrous sovereign default.

Tensions in the Middle East, especially in Israel, had slowed the fall in oil prices, Summit's Smith said.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold ended flat in thin trading, with many market participants out for a holiday in the US and an industry conference in Hong Kong.

The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, on Monday settled unchanged at $US1,730.90 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold had climbed 3.3 per cent last week, the most since January, as the re-election of President Barack Obama and the arrival of what has traditionally been India's peak demand period drew buyers back to the precious metal after its monthlong selloff.

Trading on Monday was quiet, with bond markets closed for the US Veterans Day holiday.

BASE METALS

Base metals have closed higher on the London Metal Exchange (LME), boosted by growing confidence in the metals' demand prospects from China.

At the PM kerb close on Monday, LME three-month copper was 0.9 per cent higher on the day at $US7,635 a metric ton. Aluminum led the complex, up 2.4 per cent at $US1,967.50/ton.

Base metal investors were cheered by some encouraging economic data from top metals consumer China and hopes for further infrastructure building following the county's leadership handover.

According to the General Administration of Customs, China's trade surplus rose to $US31.99 billion ($A30.91 billion) in October from $US27.67 billion ($A26.74 billion) in September, after China's October exports rose 11.6 per cent on the year, faster than September's 9.9 per cent rise and higher than economist expectations for a 10.0 per cent expansion.