Oil prices have risen again, for the fourth consecutive week. As a result, prices per barrel are back to within a stone's throw of their 2021 peak, at USD 86 for Brent and USD 84 for the US reference. The environment remains favorable for black gold despite the acceleration of the global pandemic. With a falling dollar, supply problems, geopolitical tensions and strict production controls by OPEC+ countries, the planets remain aligned in favor of oil and the energy segment in general. Also of note, U.S. commercial inventories have once again declined and now stand at their lowest level since October 2018.
Industrial metals prices remain firm. China continues to drive demand, evidenced by the latest monthly import data from Beijing, which remains buoyant overall. Nickel stood out by breaking through the USD 22,000 per metric ton mark, a 10-year high. Indonesia, a real heavyweight in the sector, continues to press prices upwards due to its desire to tax ferronickel exports, the aim being to process nickel ores locally. Related to precious metals, gold and silver have gained ground, albeit modestly. The barbarian relic is trading at USD 1,820, compared to USD 23.10 for silver.
In agricultural commodities, the USDA lowered its estimate for global soybean production due to abnormally dry weather in South America. The agency also sees an easing of the wheat market due to deteriorating demand, which is expected to result in higher U.S. stocks. As a result, wheat prices in Chicago fell to 746 cents per bushel.