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SYDNEY, Dec 27 AAP

December 27 2012, 08:28AM

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas overnight:

ENERGY

Oil prices jumped as President Barack Obama headed back to Washington for a last-ditch attempt to secure a "fiscal cliff" deal with Republicans ahead of a year-end deadline.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery, gained $US2.37 to settle at $US90.98 a barrel, its highest level in almost ten weeks.

Brent North Sea crude for February delivery climbed $US2.27 to $US111.07 a barrel in London trade.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold edged higher on Wednesday night (AEDT) as thin post-Christmas trading and anticipation that a US budget deal might be done before the end of the year supported bullion prices.

Trading across commodities was light, curtailed by London's Boxing Day holiday and year-end festivities elsewhere. US crude oil outperformed other markets, rising 3 per cent to a 6-week high, on technical buying, Middle East tensions and signs of speedier efforts to avert the US fiscal crisis.

In gold futures, the benchmark February contract on New York's COMEX settled up $US1.20 at $USUS1,660.70 an ounce after a session high at $US1,668.70.

Bullion's spot price hovered near $US1,660, versus late Monday's level of around $US1,658.

"Markets are thin, so few large orders can move prices quickly this week," said George Gero, precious metals analyst at RBC Capital Markets Global Futures, in New York.

He said renewed efforts by the Obama administration to avert a fiscal crisis before the end of the year represented one of the positive factors for gold in Wednesday's session.

While gold is typically a safe-haven asset that gets a boost from economic uncertainties, it has increasingly been behaving like a risk asset, and could also gain if a US resolution comes through.

BASE METALS

Copper futures rose on Wednesday, tracking gains in Asian equities on hopes for accelerating economic growth there in 2013 that may indicate higher demand for the industrial metal.

The most-actively traded copper contract, for March delivery, rose 5.15 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to settle at $US3.5975 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Copper trading volume was lower than normal Wednesday, with trading desks thinly staffed during the Christmas holiday-shortened week. Comex and the London Metal Exchange were closed Tuesday, and the LME remained shut Wednesday for Boxing Day. Futures pointed higher after the open of Comex floor trading, as traders who had bet on lower prices during the metal's recent slump cashed out on upbeat sentiment in key copper-consuming countries.

Copper futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose for a third consecutive day, drawing support from a rise in Chinese equities on optimism about the 2013 growth outlook. The Shanghai Index Wednesday touched its highest point since July, and Japanese, South Korean and Indian shares also rose. China is the largest consumer of copper, accounting for about 40 per cent of global consumption, and price moves there can influence global markets.