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AAP

2013-02-07

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:

ENERGY

Global oil prices have edged higher, erasing earlier losses, following signs of stronger-than-expected demand for crude in top consuming nation the United States, dealers say.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March added 30 US cents to $US116.82 a barrel in London late Wednesday afternoon deals. On Tuesday it had reached $US117.23 -- the highest level since mid-September, propelled by a series of positive economic indicators.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for March won 28 US cents to stand at $US96.92 a barrel in Wednesday trading.

The US government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced Wednesday that American oil stockpiles climbed by 2.6 million barrels in the week ending February 1.

That undershot expectations for a larger gain of 2.9 million barrels, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, indicating stronger-than-expected energy demand in the world's biggest economy.

PRECIOUS METALS

Platinum futures have roared to a 16-month high, as ongoing concerns about supply cuts from top producer South Africa continued to draw new buyers to the market.

Platinum for April delivery, the most active contract, rose $US29.30, or 1.7 per cent, to settle at $US1,736.50 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. This was the highest settlement price since September 21, 2011, when the white metal closed at $US1,788.20 a troy ounce.

Platinum producers meeting at a mining conference in South Africa have been discussing the need to shut down the highest-cost operations in the country. South Africa supplies around 80 per cent of the world's platinum, but rising costs have made many platinum mines unprofitable, leading companies to reconsider their business options.

The world's largest platinum producer, Anglo American PLC, last month announced plans to cut its annual platinum output by 20 per cent, sparking fears of a supply shortage and drawing buyers to the market.

By contrast, palladium futures settled slightly lower as some investors chose to lock in gains on the metal's multimonth rally.

Palladium for March delivery settled down 65 US cents, or 0.1 per cent, at $US764.80 a troy ounce on the Nymex.

Palladium futures had touched a fresh 17-month intraday high of $US772.90 a troy ounce, the highest traded price since September 2, 2011. But prices struggled to hold those levels as some traders opted to sell their holdings and lock in profits on palladium's recent rally. Palladium futures are up 8.7 per cent so far this year.

BASE METALS

Base metals on the London Metal exchange (LME) have closed lower, with most extending early losses toward the European close after a weakening euro parred demand.

At the close of open outcry trading, LME three-month copper, flagship of the base metals complex, on Wednesday was 0.3 per cent lower on the previous day's settlement at $US8,245 a metric ton. The euro has been falling against the US dollar since the start of the week, reducing the appeal of dollar-denominated base metals. Demand for the metals is lower when the US dollar is comparatively strong.

In an otherwise quiet session, Sucden Financial analysts noted "a lack of any significant economic data for the market to chew on led to a routine day".

The US dollar has benefited in recent sessions to the detriment of the euro, as a resurgence of investor concerns regarding Europe has sent market participants toward assets deemed less risky, such as the greenback.

The euro also suffered as investors reined in some of their long bets on the common currency ahead of a European Central Bank meeting Thursday. The Bank of England also will announce its interest-rate decision and policy outlook Thursday.