Oil prices soared on Wednesday after the US government reported a sharp drop in weekly crude inventories in the world’s top oil consumer.
New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for November delivery soared $US1.68 to $US77.86 a barrel, after briefly touching its highest level since August 11 at $US78.13 a barrel.
London’s Brent North Sea crude for November gained $US2.06 to reach $US80.77.
The Energy Information Administration reported crude inventories declined by 475,000 barrels for the week ending September 24, more than forecast by most analysts.
Gasoline stocks fell by 3.47 million barrels where experts widely expected a rise by 500,000 barrels. Distillate stocks fell 1.27 million barrels, the EIA also said.
Oil prices were further supported by the continued slide of the US dollar against most key currencies, with the greenback hitting at five-month low against the euro.
In other Nymex trading in October contracts, heating oil rose 6.60 cents to settle at $US2.1905 a gallon and gasoline gained 4.76 cents to settle at $US1.9765 a gallon. Analysts expect both contracts to be active since they expire Thursday. Natural gas for November delivery added 1.1 cents to settle at $US3.962 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold extended its record-breaking rally, rising above $US1,310 an ounce while silver hit a 30-year peak, as the dollar hit a five-month low against the euro on growing expectations of more US monetary easing.
Gold’s strength also lifted other precious metals, with palladium hitting its highest level since March 2008 and platinum a four-month high.
Spot gold hit $US1,313.20, its 10th record high in the past 12 trading days, and was up 0.2 per cent at $US1,309.30 at 3:29 pm EDT (0529 AEST). US gold futures on the COMEX division of the NYMEX for December delivery settled up $US2 at $US1,310.30 an ounce.
COMEX gold open interest rose to new record at 619,408 lots, and the exchange estimated final gold volume at 121,300 lots, about six per cent higher than its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.
The dollar fell for a fourth straight session to hit a new five-month low against the euro as broadly weak economic data reinforced the belief the US Federal Reserve could resume its purchases of Treasuries to keep interest rates low.
Copper jumped to a more than two-year peak on Wednesday, with prices in London vaulting above the key $US8,000 a tonne level, as the dollar slipped and demand prospects brightened in response to robust manufacturing data in China.
China is the world’s leading copper consumer, whose imports this year stand at 2.954 million tonnes – just below levels in 2009, when imports broke all previous records.
Copper for December delivery on the COMEX metals division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 2.45 cents to end at $US3.6615 per lb, which marked the highest level on a settlement basis for the third position futures contract since July 22, 2008.
The benchmark December contract is up more than 30 per cent since hitting a recent bottom at $US2.77 per lb in early June.
On the London Metal Exchange (LME), copper for three-month delivery peaked at $US8,075 a tonne, a high dating back to August 2008, before ending at $US8,064, up $US154 from Tuesday’s close.
Demand prospects for the red metal were bolstered by a rise in HSBC’s China Purchasing Managers’ Index to a five-month high in September.
The data pointed to renewed, though moderate, momentum in the vast industrial sector, seen as the backbone of China’s economy.
Aluminum closed up $US32 at $US2,341 a tonne. On Tuesday, it hit a five-month high at $US2,336.25.
LME stocks of the metal slipped 3,350 tonnes to 4.35 million tonnes, with a large portion of the metal tied up in finance deals.
Nickel rose $US175 to end at $US23,350 from $US23,175, lead rose $US19 to $US2,300, and zinc closed up $US10 at $US2,225.
Tin peaked at $US24,390 a tonne, a peak not seen since May 2008, before ending up $US325 at $US24,325.
The metal, used in electrical solder, is plagued by supply worries in top exporter Indonesia.