Gold falls on eurozone growth concern

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Greece and Spain weighed on commodities and gold prices as investors shunned risky assets amid worries about the economic health of the eurozone.

Gold was down 0.8 per cent to $1,592.36 a troy ounce while copper for three-month delivery on the London Metal Exchange retreated 0.9 per cent to $8,030 a tonne.

The macroeconomic risks overshadowing commodities prices were reminiscent of last year, said analysts.

“Returns from passive investment in commodity indices have not provided a lot of fun over the last two years,” said Olivier Jakob at consultancy Petromatrix.

Crude oil fluctuated on mixed supply and demand fundamentals amid the overall gloom in the markets.

ICE Brent benchmark, which fell last week to a three-month low of $110.34 a barrel on concerns about slower European growth, was trading at $112.29 a barrel, down 44 cents.

The US government’s weekly inventory data painted a bearish picture of crude stocks, with inventories rising for a seventh straight week to the highest level since August 1990 to 379.5m barrels.

Nymex West Texas Intermediate fell $1.15 to $95.89 as stocks at Cushing Oklahoma, the key US delivery point, hit a new record high of 44.1m barrels.

However, the decline in product stocks in the same report suggested firm underlying US demand. Inventories of distillates, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 3.25m barrels to their lowest level since June 2008. Gasoline inventories also dropped.

Although some commentators have been lamenting weak US oil demand, this “does not appear to be a real phenomenon according to the steadily improving flow of data”, said Paul Horsnell at Barclays.

Asian demand for crude oil is expected to remain firm, with Japan’s nuclear reactors shut down.

Analysts at JPMorgan said hotter summer weather could easily push oil use in power generation past the highs seen in February and “monitoring ambient temperatures will be critical”.

Although oil use for power had weakened in spring relative to the winter in Japan, compared with a year before they are at still high levels and “industry players face the challenge of maintaining the mandated volume” to meet domestic demand, added JPMorgan.

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