Gold prices hold gains on Middle East tension, copper down on Caixin
Gold held gains in Asia on Monday with investors noting heightened geopolitical tension as Saudi Arabia said at the weekend it would cut diplomatic ties with Iran, but copper fell sharply on a weak Caixin manufacturing survey. The move followed a weekend storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response to the kingdom's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. Gold for February delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 0.28% to $1,063.20 a troy ounce. Also on the Comex, silver futures rose 0.52% to $13.875 a troy ounce, while copper futures plunged 1.65% to $2.100 a pound. Last week, gold futures edged higher on Thursday on the last day of a year which saw the precious metal post its third straight yearly loss as the start of a rate hike cycle by the Federal Reserve bolstered the dollar and pressured the metal.
NYMEX crude up in Asia, but off early sharp gains on Caixin
Crude oil prices eased back from sharp early Monday gain in Asia as weak manufacturing in China offset geopolitical concerns in the Middle East.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in February was up 1.31% to $37.55 a barrel, following sharp morning games on a weekend move by Saudi Arabia to ct diplomatic ties with Iran.
The announcement was sent in an Arabic-language Twitter (N:TWTR) post by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "His Excellency, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (of the) Saudi kingdom is announcing cutting diplomatic ties with Iran." The practical effect on oil supplies was limited, however tension between the two countries is expected to escalate Islamic sectarian issues. The U.S. has also repealed a 40-year ban on U.S. crude exports to countries outside Canada and markets are bracing for the return of Iranian crude exports after Western sanctions against Tehran are lifted.
Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that inventories of crude oil in the U.S. stand near eight-decade highs.
In its weekly supply report released on Wednesday the EIA said crude oil stockpiles increased by 2.6 million barrels to 487.4 million barrels in the week to December 25, compared with expectations for a decline of 1 million barrels on the week.
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