Commodities lose ground Monday amid Omicron fears
By Daniel Tyson
21:03, 20 December 2021
US future prices continued their slide Monday as the rapidly increasing numbers of Omicron cases inspire fear in the market and cause investors to worry about new efforts to combat inflation.
West Texas Intermediate futures fell 3.10% to $68.66 a barrel for January 2022 delivery. Brent crude also declined during the day, falling 2.24% to $71.87.
“Crude prices fell faster than risk appetite did after Senator Manchin said he won’t support President Biden’s “Build Back Better” legislation,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst for OANDA.
“The selling pressure was strong at the open as energy traders fixated on the rapid spread of the omicron coronavirus variant and more potential restrictions across Europe,” he said.
Across the future market, commodities were seeing red.
Gold fell below the feel-good threshold of $1,800 to $1,791.50, down .74%.
“Gold prices did not stand a chance of having a positive to the trading week after Senator Manchin signalled President Biden’s Build Back Better plan did not have his support. Gold bulls already priced in Biden’s $2trn economic agenda, so the growing possibility of the economy not getting that stimulus was bad news for bullion,” said Moya, adding trading volumes should continue to decline and that may have gold trade between $1,775 and $1,830 for the rest of the week.
Silver was down more than 1% to $22.29 and platinum also dipped to $927.40, a 0.76% slide.
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A couple of winners
Monday’s winner was natural gas which saw a 4.53% increase to $3.88 MMBtu, still nowhere near its 6 October high of $6.47 MMBtu.
In precious metals, copper was up slightly, .14% to $4.30 an ounce. There are some worries in the market after Chile elected a leftist president Sunday. Gabriel Boric won 56% of the votes against the conservative Jose Antonio Kast.
Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, has had its paso lose 16% of its value this year.
As the European infection rate increases, there is a possibility Covid-19-style restrictions will return to the continent ahead of Christmas and New Year's in several countries.
In the US, the Biden administration's point man on Covid, Dr Anthony Fauci, suggested people get booster shots and wear a mask in public places.
Meanwhile, US energy companies this week added oil and natural gas rigs for a second week in a row, according to data released by Baker Hughes. The weekly rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by three to 579 in the week of 17 December, the highest in a year.