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  OIL $70, GOLD $606, SILVER $13

Gold storms to new 25-yr high, silver surges

Reuters | April 17, 2006
By Chikafumi Hodo


Silver jumps 3 pct to $13.33 per ounce

Oil price touches $70 on jitters over supply

TOKYO (Reuters) - Gold surged to a new 25-year high on Monday, buoyed by concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions and surges in oil prices, while silver powered to its highest since May 1983 on hopes for the first silver exchange-traded fund.

Hedge funds and operators investing in the short term were anxious about shifting their funds into gold and silver for the purpose to diversify and to raise higher returns.

Spot gold <XAU=> rose as high as $606.10 an ounce -- the highest since December 1980, while silver <XAG=> rose to $13.33 per ounce, its loftiest since May 1983.

Surges of gold <0#JAU:> and silver <0#JSV:> futures on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange spilled to bolster dollar-based spot prices as both London and New York markets were closed for Easter holidays on Friday.

"We all know both gold and silver prices are too high, but no long holders are willing to sell, while short holders were getting heavily squeezed," said Takashi Ogura, risk management section manager at Kanetsu Asset Management.

"People don't want to go against the present bullish trend, so prices are surging," Ogura added.

At 0633 GMT, gold <XAU=> was trading at $605.50/606.30, compared with Friday's late Asia level of around $599.30. It was at $596.10/596.90 in New York on Thursday.

New York metals futures markets will reopen on Monday, while London precious metals markets will be closed until Tuesday.

Key most-distant February contract on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange <0#JAU:> closed at 2,341 yen per gram, up 22 yen or 0.95 percent from Friday's close.

Gold was supported by bullish U.S. oil futures <CLc1>, which leapt to $70 a barrel for the first time in seven and a half months on Monday. Gold is considered a hedge against inflation.

Iran has expanded its uranium conversion facilities in Isfahan and reinforced its Nantanz enrichment plant, a U.S. think tank said over the weekend.

Market bulls expect spot gold could eventually test the record high of $850 an ounce reached in January 1980.

But many traders were nervous about chasing gold and silver from current levels as they were unsure whether the current upward trend would be maintained even after participants fully return from the Easter holidays.

"Rises in TOCOM silver and gold boosted spot prices, while many foreigners are watching today's rises very cautiously," said a senior trader at a Japanese trading house said.

"Prices are sharply up but there are few players who are willing to take new positions from these high levels."

Key most-distant February TOCOM silver rose more than 3 percent on active speculative buying, which helped lift the spot silver price.

Silver <XAG=> was trading at $13.31/13.34, up from around $12.93 in late Asia on Friday and surpassing the previous 23-year high of $13.01 an ounce reached on April 11.

It was at $12.77/12.80 in New York on Thursday.

Spot silver has climbed more than 50 percent from the start of the year and has nearly doubled from a year ago.

But silver is still far from its peak in early 1980 when the billionaire Hunt Brothers of Texas sent the metal to around $50 as they tried to corner the market before prices came crashing back down.

Both platinum and palladium rose in line with gains in silver and gold.

Platinum <XPT=> was trading to $1,090/1,100 an ounce from $1,080 in late Asia on Friday. It was at $1,075/1,080 in late New York on Thursday.

Palladium <XPD=> advanced to $350/360 an ounce from $344 in Asia on Friday. It was at $344/349 in New York on Thursday.

Precious Metal Prices by 0633 GMT

Last Net Change Pct Move

Gold 605.50 7.50 +1.25

Platinum 1090.00 13.00 +1.21

Palladium 350.00 12.00 +3.55

Silver 13.31 0.40 +3.10

Change so far in 2006

Metal Latest bid End prev year Pct Move

Gold 605.50 517.20 +17.07

Platinum 1090.00 968.00 +12.60

Palladium 350.00 254.00 +37.80

Silver 13.31 8.81 +51.08

Silver jumps 3 pct to $13.33 per ounce

Reuters | April 17, 2006

Spot silver jumped three percent to $13.33 per ounce, the highest since May 1983, on Monday as hopes of an imminent launch of the first silver exchange-traded fund induced fresh buying from speculators.

As of 0153 GMT, silver <XAG=> was trading at $13.33/13.36, up 3.1 percent from $12.93 in late Asia on Friday and surpassing the previous 23-year high of $13.01 an ounce reached on April 11.

It was at $12.77/12.80 in New York on Thursday.

Both London and New York markets were closed for Easter holidays on Friday.

New York metals futures markets will reopen on Monday, while London precious metals markets will be closed until Tuesday.

Oil price touches $70 on jitters over supply

HONG KONG Crude oil futures hit $70 a barrel in Asian trading Monday for the first time in nearly eight months, lifted by concerns over declining U.S. gasoline stocks, supply disruptions in Nigeria and tension over Iran's nuclear program.

Comments made Monday by Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, the oil minister of Qatar, that the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries could do little to calm prices also fueled worries that petroleum prices would stay in record territory for the foreseeable future.

"I think oil prices are too high but there is nothing we can do," Attiyah told Reuters on the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery briefly touched $70 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday before easing to $69.80 a barrel, up 35 cents from the close Thursday. The Nymex was closed Friday for the Easter holidays.

"Gasoline inventories in the U.S. continue to be an issue in the market because last week's inventory report showed a stock decline as we approach the summer driving season," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst at Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

The last time Nymex crude futures surpassed $70 a barrel was Aug. 30 when they traded at a record $70.85 a barrel after Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Crude oil and gasoline prices in Tokyo rose to an all-time high Monday, as traders fretted over possible supply disruptions after Cosmo Oil, the fourth- largest refiner in the country, shut a crude distillation unit Sunday after an explosion.

Cosmo Oil said it did not know when operations at the 130,000 barrel-a-day facility would resume. The company said it would supply customers from inventory and oil products that are made at the refinery's other unit, which can process 110,000 barrels of oil a day.

Oil for September delivery rose 1 percent Monday to €49.32 a kiloliter, or $66.29 a barrel.

The October gasoline contract climbed 2.1 percent to ¥67,960 a kiloliter, or $2.17 a gallon, after reaching an intraday record of ¥68,160 earlier Monday.

In the United States, according to a weekly report from the Department of Energy, gasoline inventories dropped 3.9 million barrels in the week ending April 7 to 207.9 million barrels - down nearly 2 percent from a year earlier.

"But perhaps the concern over gasoline's stock drawdown is a little overdone as it's largely a result of the refinery maintenance season," said Victor Shum, an analyst at Purvin & Gertz. "When the refineries come back from maintenance, gasoline supplies may build, and then we could see the market go through a correction."

Heating oil prices rose 1.14 cents to $1.999 a gallon while gasoline futures jumped 1.21 cents to $2.1191 a gallon - a level not reached since early September.

Meanwhile, natural gas fell marginally to $7.170 per 1,000 cubic feet on Monday after the U.S. Department of Energy reported that natural gas inventories grew by 19 billion cubic feet in the week ending April 7 to 1.7 trillion cubic feet.

At London's ICE Futures exchange, Brent crude oil futures touched a new high above $71 a barrel, rising 55 cents to $71.12 a barrel for June delivery. The contract had earlier risen to $71.40 a barrel.

Brent crude's previous high was reached April 13 when it touched $70.99 in intraday trading. $@

Jakarta subsidy cost surging

In Indonesia, officials at Pertamina, the state oil company, said Monday that the government in Jakarta would have to pay at least 10.5 percent more than budgeted for subsidies on domestic fuel prices in the first quarter, Bloomberg News reported from Jakarta.

Subsidy costs will probably rise to 15 trillion rupiah, or $1.67 billion, in the first three months of the year, compared with 13.58 trillion rupiah under the budget approved by Parliament last year, said Djaelani Sutomo, the head of the fuel division at Pertamina.

Gains in Indonesia's currency pared the effect of rising crude oil prices on the state budget, Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said April 5. The rupiah has risen 9.2 percent this year, making it one of the world's fastest-appreciating currencies.




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