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AAP

2013-01-28

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:

ENERGY

Global oil prices have advanced, buoyed by a weakening US dollar, upbeat German economic data and gains on European stock markets, dealers said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March rose 41 US cents to $US113.69 a barrel in London midday deals.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for March, won 47 US cents to $US96.42 a barrel.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold futures have fallen to their lowest level in nearly three weeks as investors shed holdings of the precious metal in favour of riskier assets like equities.

The most actively traded contract, for February delivery, fell $US13.30, or 0.8 per cent, to settle at $US1,656.60 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. This was the lowest settlement price since $US1,655.50 a troy ounce on January 9.

The rally in US equities continued to siphon capital out of precious metals as investors grew more comfortable with the riskier assets. The Standard & Poor's 500 stocks index was recently trading at 1502, up seven points, or 0.5 per cent.

BASE METALS

Base metals closed mostly lower on the London Metal Exchange (LME) after data showing an on-month decline in US home sales damped investor spirits, causing prices to close the week with on-day losses.

At the close of open-outcry trading, flagship of the base-metal group LME three-month copper was down 0.8 per cent on the previous day's settlement price, having traded in a cautious range of around $US145 over the course of the week.

"Base metals have garnered some support this week from positive economic data worldwide, dollar weakness and very low risk aversion," commented BNP Paribas strategist Stephen Briggs.

"But amid choppy conditions, they have made no net progress, falling further behind stock markets (and) as a choppy week draws towards a close, copper has lost all its earlier gains, and more," he noted.

Sales of new homes in the US fell in December but ended 2012 well above a year earlier, marking the beginnings of a recovery for the US building industry which uses copper for construction purposes and electrical applications.