Dollar has fought back against euro in recent weeks
London - AFP
Oil prices rebounded and gold firmed this week as markets reacted to geopolitical concerns and the outlook for interest rates in the United States.
A strong dollar meanwhile capped gains for certain commodities priced in the US unit and caused others to drop week-on-week.
The dollar has fought back against the euro in recent weeks as markets bet on rises to US interest rates later this year despite a clouded outlook. This has made dollar-denominated raw materials like oil and gold more expensive for holders of rival currencies, denting demand.
Minutes of the US central bank's last policy meeting showed a split over when interest rates should again start rising in the world's biggest economy.
Minutes from the March meeting published earlier this week showed that "several (Fed) participants" thought conditions were right for a June hike in the federal funds rate, which has been stuck near zero since late 2008.
Others deemed the economy would not be able to weather a hike until later in the year, while "a couple" said liftoff would remain unlikely until 2016.
While last week's US jobs data "was a big disappointment, the minutes from the Fed's last meeting suggests that they remain in hiking mode and may hike rates at some point this year, even if June now seems like a long shot", said Forex.com analyst Kathleen Brooks.
OIL: Crude prices rose, supported by concerns over Iran's nuclear deal that helped to offset worries about a US supply glut according to analysts.
"Geopolitical factors remain a constant worry for investors with concerns regarding Iran's nuclear programme potentially leading to ongoing volatility in the crude oil market," said Kash Kamal, senior research analyst at Sucden brokerage.
Analysts attributed steep gains at the start of the week to investors concluding that the nuclear framework agreed between Iran and international powers will have a minimal near-term effect on global crude supplies.
The deal Tehran agreed with the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia plus Germany paves the way for the Islamic republic to curtail its nuclear activity in exchange for relief from punishing economic sanctions, including on oil investment.
In volatile trading, oil prices sank on Wednesday after the US Department of Energy said commercial inventories in the world's biggest economy hit a record high last week.
That came after Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said his country's production had hit an all-time high of 10.3 million barrels a day in March.
But Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group, this week said that rising imports of US crude oil could indicate improved demand prospects in the world's largest oil consumer or concerns about supply tightening.
By Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May jumped to $56.84 a barrel from $54.80 on Thursday of the previous week when trading stopped earlier than usual for Easter.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for May climbed to $50.80 compared with $49.29.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold rose slightly, with support coming from the fact that it is regarded by investors as a safe bet in times of geopolitical and economic uncertainty.
"Gold is putting up some resistance against the surging dollar," said analysts at PVM brokers in a note to clients.
By Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold firmed to $1,207.35 an ounce from $1,198.50 on Thursday of the previous week.
Silver fell to $16.55 an ounce from $16.84.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum rose to $1,171 an ounce from $1,154.
Palladium increased to $777 an ounce from $751.
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals diverged as traders assessed the growth outlook for China.
"The lack of clarity on China's future demand appears to be leading to swings in investor sentiment," said Capital Economics research group.
China's consumer inflation held steady at 1.4 percent in March, the government said Friday, amid a broad slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
Earlier this year the central People's Bank of China cut benchmark interest rates for the second time in three months, citing "historically low inflation", as the country's economy grows at its slowest annual pace in nearly a quarter of a century.
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months rose to $6,025.50 a tonne from $5,993 on Thursday of the previous week.
Three-month aluminium fell to $1,766.50 a tonne from $1,774.50.
Three-month lead increased to $1,998.50 a tonne from $1,870.
Three-month tin dropped to $16,570 a tonne from $16,750.
Three-month nickel retreated to $12,680 a tonne from $12,935.
Three-month zinc edged higher to $2,107.50 a tonne from $2,081.50.
- Sugar firms -
SUGAR: Prices firmed after recently trading close to near six-year lows.
By Thursday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, a tonne of white sugar for delivery in May gained to $366.10 from $361.10 a week earlier.
On ICE Futures US, unrefined sugar for May increased to 12.81 US cents a pound from 12.46 US cents.
COCOA: Futures rebounded.
"Ideas of at least a little bit of economic recovery provided some support as did signs of better demand" from Europe, said Jack Scoville, analyst at Price Futures Group.
By Friday on LIFFE, cocoa for delivery in July climbed to £1,974 a tonne from £1,931 on Thursday of the previous week.
On the ICE Futures US exchange, cocoa for July rose to $2,804 a tonne from $2,749.
COFFEE: Prices edged higher over the week.
By Friday on ICE Futures, Arabica for delivery in May rose to 136.70 US cents a pound from 134.80 cents on Thursday of the previous week.
On LIFFE, Robusta for May gained to $1,799 a tonne from $1,751.
RUBBER: Prices fell on weak demand.
By Friday, the Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 dropped to 136.90 US cents a kilo from 140.75 US cents a week earlier.