(MT Newswires) – Crude prices ended Friday’s session higher but recorded their first weekly decline in four weeks after domestic supplies in the US hit their highest level in two months, outweighing the impact of political turmoil in Venezuela, a country whose oil reserves are bigger than Saudi Arabia’s. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that crude oil inventories in the US soared by 8 million barrels over a week to Jan. 18. That increase compares with expectations for a 42,000 barrel-drop in a Reuters’ survey of analysts. The report was released a day later than usual due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Jan. 21. At 445.0 million barrels as of Jan. 18, excluding special reserves, the inventories are 9% above their five-year average for this time of year, the EIA report noted. It is also the highest level since late November. The EIA, in its annual 2019 report, which was also released Thursday, said the US produced almost 11 million barrels per day of crude oil in 2018, exceeding its previous 1970 record of 9.6 million barrels per day. The American Petroleum Institute had said Tuesday that crude oil stocks jumped by 6.6 million barrels last week to 443.6 million. Finally, the number of oil rigs operating in the US jumped by 10, after having slumped by 21 last week, to 862, according to data from energy services firm Baker Hughes (BHGE), which tracked the seven-day period ending Jan. 25. The combined oil and gas rig count in the US was rose by nine to 1,059 as gas rigs fell by one to 197.
Light, sweet crude oil for March delivery fell 0.74% for the week, settling at $53.69 per barrel at the end of Friday’s session. In other energy futures, gasoline fell during the week, down 3.93% and settling at $1.40 per gallon on Friday. Natural gas for March delivery declined 3.86% this week at $3.07 per 1 million British thermal unit.
The SummerHaven Dynamic Commodity Index Total Return Index (SDCITR) was 0.06% lower this week, compared with an increase of 1.10% in the previous week.
Gold wrapped up the Friday session higher, closing at $1,304.20, to end the week up 1.57%. The yellow metal’s gains came on the back of a subdued dollar, with traders looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting next week. It is speculated that the Fed might leave interest rates unchanged or speak about pausing interest rate hikes sometime soon. Meanwhile, after two separate proposals to re-open the government failed in the Senate on Thursday, President Donald Trump said Friday that he would approve an agreement to end the longest-ever government shutdown — allowing the government to re-open until Feb. 15, with federal employees getting salaries — while work goes on toward a deal for border security. Trump also reassured workers that they would be given back pay for the days they had been furloughed. Copper, on the other hand, finished Friday’s session at $2.73 per pound, closing the week up 0.85%, after Freeport McMoRan, the world’s second-biggest copper miner, forecast a drop in output in 2019. The company, which reported its fourth-quarter earnings results on Thursday, said that it expects sales volumes for the year 2019 to approximate 3.3 billion pounds of copper.
Agriculture commodities ended the week mixed: among grains, wheat edged 0.82% higher and settled at $5.20 per bushel at the end of Friday’s session; corn was slipped 0.13% in the week and settled at $3.80 per bushel in Friday’s session; and soybeans managed to eke out a weekly gain of 0.93%, closing at $9.25 per bushel on Friday, even as trade concerns have been weighing on the commodity for the past five days. A delegation from China is set to arrive in the US next week for trade negotiations, but markets are skeptical about the two nations striking a trade deal anytime soon. On Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in an attempt to underscore the complexity of a mutually beneficial trade deal, said in an interview with CNBC that a resolution to the trade conflict is still “miles and miles” away. But the outlook for soybeans was slightly upbeat as Brazil lowered its forecast for the 2018-19 soybean harvest to 16.8 million tonnes from the previous 19.1 million tonnes, after the Parana state, the country’s second-largest soybean producer, experienced a dry spell last month. Meanwhile, other commodities such as sugar had a weekly increase of 4.30% and settled at a price of $0.12 per pound on Friday; coffee was around $1.07 per pound at Friday’s close, up 1.33% for the week; and cocoa fell 3.08% for the week and closed Friday’s session at $2,225 per tonne.
The SummerHaven Dynamic Agriculture Index Total Return Index (SDAITR) was 0.19% lower for the week, compared with an increase of 0.65% in the prior week.
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