Crude oil prices rebounded from early weakness and hit a fresh 2009 high on Wednesday as commodity markets rallied after the US dollar sank through a key resistance level against the euro.

Nymex December West Texas Intermediate rose $2.25 to $81.37, recovering from a session low of $77.64.

ICE December Brent gained $2.45 to $79.69 a barrel after trading as low as $76.04.

US inventories data released on Wednesday showed an increase of 1.3m barrels in crude stocks last week, below the consensus forecast for a 1.8m barrel rise.

Almost one-fifth of US refining capacity remains idle because of poor profit margins and disappointing demand from consumers.

Refinery utilisation rose 0.2 percentage points to 81.1 per cent after an unexpectedly large drop in the previous week.

US petrol stocks fell 2.3m barrels last week, above the consensus forecast for a 1m barrels decrease.

Nymex November RBOB unleaded gasoline rose 4.2 cents, or 2.1 per cent, to $2.0292 a gallon.

Distillate stocks (including heating oil) fell 800,000 barrels, less than the consensus forecast for a drop of 1.3m barrels.

Nymex November heating oil gained 4.5 cents, or 2.2 per cent, to $2.0930 a gallon.

Colder US weather has boosted natural gas prices, up more than 70 per cent since the start of September. Nymex November Henry Hub traded 3 cents, or 0.6 per cent, higher at $5.190 per million British thermal units.

Gold rose 0.5 per cent to $1,060 a troy ounce.

“The ongoing decline in the dollar and questions surrounding its long-term status as the world’s principal reserve currency are the linchpin to the gold rally,” said James Steel, precious metals analyst at HSBC.

Among the base metals, copper gained 2.4 per cent to $6,570 a tonne, supported by strikes in Chile and Peru and uncertainly over production losses in Australia.

Aluminium added 2.9 per cent to $1,970 a tonne while lead jumped 6.4 per cent to $2,445 a tonne, helped by short closing.

Sugar prices rose, with Liffe December white sugar up 1.6 per cent to $600.4 a tonne while ICE March sugar added 1.6 per cent to 23.97 cents a pound.

Concerns about the effect of bad weather on India’s sugar output were amplified by reports that yields in Uttar Pradesh, the largest sugar producing state, were well below normal.

Traders said that this increased the risk that the market’s expectations for India to produce 15m to 16m tonnes of sugar in 2008-09 could be disappointed.

The world’s largest rubber producers dropped export controls in response to surging rubber prices.

Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, which together account for more than 70 per cent of global rubber output, imposed export limits in December in a bid to stop a plunge in the prices.

Since then, rubber has rebounded almost 75 per cent. Prices in Tokyo, the world’s benchmark, hit a fresh one-year high on Wednesday, helped by demand improving and rising oil prices, which make synthetic rubber more expensive.

Rubber for March delivery at the Tokyo Commodity Exchange rose to an intraday peak of Y227.3 per kilogramme, the highest since last October.

It settled 0.4 per cent lower at Y225.3 per kg.

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