Gold rose in late trading on Friday after the Fitch cut of Spain's debt ratings forced gold investors to cover short positions before the holiday long weekend. Spot gold firmed to $US1213.85 an ounce in late New York trade, from $US1211.10 on Thursday. Comex August gold futures in New York finished with a 60 cent gain on the day at $US1215.0 an ounce. Overall, gold added 3% in May, compared to 6% in April. For the week, the metal was up 3.3%, which made May into a positive month.
With the holiday weekend in the US and London shutting markets tonight, our time, trade was already exceptionally light on Friday, so the Fitch downgrade, which shouldn't have been a big surprise, had a bigger impact across the board. Fitch cut Spain's long-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings to AA-plus from AAA, and put the outlook on the new ratings at stable. The euro and US shares fell after the rating cut, and the US dollar firmed. The Aussie dollar ended around 84.70 USc, after trading well over 85 USc in earlier offshore trading. That was up around 1.5 USc over the week. The euro finished lower at $US1.2274, around 3 USc down on the $US1.2570 finish in New York the Friday before. That weakness stood out last week as underlying fear among investors about losses on all eurodebt just won't go away. Spot platinum fell to $US1, 544.50 an ounce after rising earlier to $US1, 569 an ounce, its highest in more than a week. Spot palladium slipped to $US459.25 an ounce, after hitting $US467.03 an ounce, its highest since May 19. Silver was lower at $US18.42 an ounce.
Comex July copper futures dropped 5.4 cents, or 1.7 %, to $US3.1045 a pound in New York, with much of the fall coming after the Fitch downgrade of Spain. In London three month copper lost 0.6% to $US6, 939 a tonne, or $US315 a pound. The market closed before the Fitch downgrade was released. Aluminum, nickel, tin and zinc prices also dropped. Lead rose. Oil prices fell on Friday after the downgrade's late release to then market. Nymex WTI for July, was down 58 cents at $US73.97 a barrel, after a brief time above $US75.70 a barrel and a low of $US73.13. Brent North Sea crude for July in London eased 64 cents to $US74.02. The current contract dropped $US12.18, or 14.1% over May, the biggest monthly percentage loss since December 2008, when prices fell 18.1%.
Front-month Brent crude fell $US13.42, or 15.4% for the month, the biggest monthly percentage decline since November 2008. US oil prices hit an intraday low of $US64.24 on May 20, ahead of the expiry of the June futures contract, almost $US23 below its peak at $US87.15 on May 3, which was its level highest in 19 months. The continuing disaster in the Gulf is being overshadowed by the weakness from Europe. But it will soon assert itself with all offshore drilling now banned for an indefinite period and estimates that up to 90,000 of new barrels of production could be affected for the rest of the year.
There are 33 rigs reported drilling in the Gulf: all will be idle for some time to come and the operators and owners face considerable new costs in upgrading them to what is expected to be a significant tightening of safety standards. The latest attempt to close the well failed yesterday, increasing the pressure on BP, the oil industry and the Obama Administration.