Oil tanked this week to 12-year lows in exceptionally volatile trade
London - AFP
Oil tanked this week to 12-year lows in exceptionally volatile trade, punished by Chinese demand concerns and a vast supply glut, but gold shone on its safe haven status.
China's economic slowdown also sent global stock markets tumbling on concern over the health of the world's second biggest economy, which is also a major consumer of many raw materials.
In tumultuous trade on Thursday, the market collapsed as China's markets turmoil also put fright into investors about the outlook for the world economy.
New York's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil collapsed to $32.10 a barrel, a level last seen in December 2003.
And Europe's benchmark oil contract, Brent North Sea crude, sank to $32.16, its lowest point since April (LSE: 0N69.L - news) 2004.
Swirling worries around the Chinese outlook also dented base or industrial metals, with zinc and copper bending to their lowest levels since 2009.
On the upside, however, the star performer was gold which enjoyed a two-month peak.
The precious metal rallied on Friday to $1,113.57 an ounce, the best level since November 4.
Gold (Other OTC: GDCWF - news) is regarded by many traders as a safe bet in times of market turmoil and geopolitical uncertainty.
"The risk-off trading environment created from the increasing geo-political tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran combined with an unexpected nuclear test from North Korea have boosted appetite for safe haven assets consequently driving gold prices to a monthly high at $1102.50," added FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga.
The metal also scored more buying interest from rising geopolitical risk after North Korea's latest nuclear test, and from China's burgeoning crisis.
"Gold is one of the few commodities performing well in these markets, benefiting from its safe haven appeal," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.
World stock markets recovered Friday after China removed ill-fated trading curbs, with a huge gain in US jobs helping to drive shares higher.
However, this week's plunge in Chinese stocks is raising further concerns about the country's economic growth slowdown and its impact on oil demand.
China is the world's top energy consuming nation.
Beijing attempted to reassure markets late Thursday by lifting a "circuit breaker" system that had led to the suspension of shares trading twice this week.
And the central bank set the yuan's reference rate against the dollar a little higher after eight straight days of weakening. Beijing's decision Thursday to set the peg at a five-year low sent shudders through markets, fuelling a global rout and sending oil to 12-year lows.
In tumultuous trade on Thursday, New York oil plummeted as China's turmoil heightened worries about the nation's powerhouse economy.
"The trigger for the latest slide in oil prices has, of course, been worries about global demand, prompted by the concerns over China," Capital Economics research house said in a note.
The global oil market has suffered a calamitous start to 2016, tumbling also in response to a vast supply glut that has plagued prices in recent years.
Oil has been hammered by persistent crude oversupply, brought about by high production levels in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and in the United States, as producers compete for market share.
And despite initially lifting prices, a deepening diplomatic spat between key OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Iran has made it less likely for the group to agree to cut output in a bid to lower prices, analysts say.