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AAP

2013-01-30

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:

ENERGY

Oil prices have hit multi-month highs on the back of the weaker US dollar and on the eve of a key monetary policy announcement in top crude consumer the United States, dealers said.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March rallied as high as $US114.49, hitting the highest level since mid-October 2012. It later stood at $US114.22 per barrel, up 74 US cents from Monday's closing level.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for March or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), struck $US97.82, reaching a peak last seen on September 17. The contract later pulled back to $US97.57, up $US1.13 from Monday.

The US Federal Reserve starts its regular monetary policy meeting on Tuesday and concludes on Wednesday.

The Conference Board meanwhile reported that US consumer confidence sank sharply in January, to 58.6. That was well below expectations.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold has gained for the first time in five sessions after some weak US economic data underlined the view that the Federal Reserve may hold to its current stimulus program.

The most actively traded contract, for February delivery, on Tuesday rose $US7.90, or 0.5 per cent, to settle at $US1,660.80 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

March delivery silver rose 40.4 US cents to $US31.184.

BASE METALS

Base metals have ended higher on the London Metal Exchange (LME), as investors shrugged off disappointing US consumer confidence data and a weaker greenback lent some support to prices.

At the close of open outcry trading on Tuesday, LME three-month copper was up 0.6 per cent at $US8,102 a metric ton.

Base metals benefited Tuesday from a softer US dollar, which lost ground versus the euro in the latter part of the trading session. Since base metals are priced in US dollars, they are less expensive to other currency holders when the greenback weakens.

Nickel gained the most of the complex Tuesday, ending the session 1.3 per cent higher on the day at $US17,850/ton. The metal's price prospects for the year ahead are dimming, however, Standard Bank said in a note Tuesday.