• The TDCI in U.S. dollars slipped 0.7% last week, as gains in both precious and non-precious metals prices were not enough to offset losses elsewhere. The energy sub-index weighed most heavily on the index, falling by 1.5%. So far this year, the index has plunged by 40%, and is down 42% from year-ago levels.
• Crude oil prices hovered around US$40 per barrel last week, marking a 4.8% decline from the week prior. A bearish U.S. inventory report – indicating that stocks mounted by more than double market expectations – followed by another dreadful U.S employment report, pressured prices down. However, some offsetting support stemmed from news that OPEC's compliance rate was higher than anticipated, and rumors that another cut may be in store for the March 15th meeting.
• Faring worse than oil, thermal coal prices slid 6% on the week as demand remained quite sluggish. Prices have fallen by nearly 20% since the start of the year, which pales in comparison to the 55% drop in crude oil prices. However, compared to year-ago levels, coal prices are down by almost 40%.
• Base metals prices outperformed the other commodities last week, advancing by 2.1%. Aluminum led the way with a 4.6% gain, as inventories dropped for the first time since early November. Copper and zinc were next in line, with each rising 2%, as better-than-expected ISM manufacturing data in the U.S. triggered speculation of increased demand for base metals. Expectations that recent production cuts will curb supply surpluses gave nickel prices a boost.
• Precious metals prices rose 1.3% on the week, led by a 3.3% jump in silver prices. Speculation that Chinese government spending will boost demand for industrial metals was the key driver behind the gain. Gold prices increased by a more modest 1.0%, on expectations that Obama's stimulus plan will spur inflation.