Commodities markets summary
Market watch top headlines
A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:
Global oil prices plunged as traders seized on speculation over possible plans for an increase in crude production and digested downbeat US housing starts data, analysts said.
Traders also took the opportunity to cash in recent gains as they awaited publication of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting.
In late afternoon London deals, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April sank $US1.57 to $US115.95 a barrel.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for March dived $US1.97 to $US94.69 ($A91.91) per barrel. The March contract expires at the close.
Gold was poised to settle at a seven-month low below $US1,600 an ounce as investors bet that the Federal Reserve may signal an early end to its bond-buying program.
After the close of floor trading but before the settlement, the most actively traded gold contract, for April delivery, on Wednesday traded down $US25.80, or 1.6 per cent, at $US1,578.40 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures were poised for the lowest settlement since July 12.
The Fed is scheduled to publish the minutes from its January meeting at 2pm EST. The gold market was shaken by the previous set of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which showed that some members favoured slowing or stopping the central bank's bond-buying effort before the end of the year.
Such accommodative monetary policies have helped propel gold to record highs as investors sought a hedge against the inflation that may follow the increased liquidity in the financial system.
Base metals on the London Metal Exchange (LME have) closed mostly lower after the group pared overnight gains early in the session, with a lower euro on the day weighing prices toward the close.
At the close of open-outcry trading, LME three-month copper was 1.1 per cent lower on the day at $US7,960 a metric ton, falling below the psychological $US8,000/ton level.
Nickel once again led declines in a bearish week for the metal, closing 1.2 per cent lower at $US17,165/ton.
The euro turned negative against the US dollar fairly early in the European session, damping the comparative buying appeal of the US dollar-denominated LME metals to holders of Europe's common currency.
Analysts at Aurubis meanwhile said that copper product markets remain influenced by the generally weak global economic situation.