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AAP

2012-11-22

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:

ENERGY

Global oil prices held firm, but shed most of their earlier gains as supply concerns eased following news of a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, traders said.

The market won some support from an unexpected slump in US crude inventories, which indicated stronger-than-expected energy demand in the world's biggest oil consuming nation.

In early evening deals in London, the price of Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January added 48 US cents to $US110.31 per barrel, having earlier topped $US111 on worries over the week-long violent conflict in the Middle East.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for January or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), was 31 US cents higher at $US87.06 a barrel.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold futures inched into positive territory as some investors stocked up on the haven asset amid anxiety about the Middle East conflict while others were lured to the market by a weaker US dollar.

The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, on Wednesday rose $US4.60, or 0.3 per cent, to settle at $US1,728.20 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold prices kept earlier gains despite reports of a ceasefire accord between Israel and Palestine that was due to begin Wednesday evening. Gold prices made modest gains earlier in the day, when a resolution to the conflict appeared illusive.

BASE METALS

Base metals closed mostly in the red on the London Metal Exchange (LME), weighed by concern over the euro-zone debt crisis.

At the PM kerb close on Wednesdsay, LME three-month copper was down 1.2 per cent at $US7,690 a metric ton. Aluminum fell 1.7 per cent to close at $US1,930/ton.

Base metals lost ground as investors digested news that talks on Greece's next tranche of aid have been adjourned until Monday.

It was hoped that an agreement on the next payment to Greece would be reached at a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers late on Tuesday but differences between them and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) resulted in any decision being pushed back.

Economic data from the US also added to the jittery tone with weekly jobless claims matching expectations for 410,000 new claims, while the previous week's reading was revised up to 451,000.