Oil extended previous gains and the front-month futures contract on Brent (ICE) settled at 105.46 USD per barrel (USD/bbl). The oil price thus hit a one-month high as concerns about recent Israeli’s military strikes on Syrian targets overshadowed demand concerns. Such a theory has also been supported by widening of Brent-WTI spread as Brent is perceived as being the global oil benchmark.
Apart from a new round of Middle East tensions, the price of North Sea oil has been supported as it provides better value for refineries than competing Russian Urals grade. Moreover, the market saw some supply issues related to unexpected production outage at the key Buzzard oil filed. Tighter fundamentals have been reflected by the steepest backwardation in CFD swap curve in more than two months.
The price of gold fell slightly on Monday as demand for physical metal weakened after significant price increase over the past three weeks which, however, followed the worst two-day drop in last 30 years. Weaker demand for the metal is also apparent in holdings of the metal in major exchange traded funds which has been falling since the end of last year. As far as the technicals are concerned, the gold price failed to breach above resistance at 1478 USD per troy ounce (USD/toz) recently.
In our view, the yellow metal has lost a part of its appeal as a hedge against inflation even though the major central banks continue to ease their policies. However, inflation rates in both advanced and major emerging economies such as China remain rather subdued. Moreover, global systemic risks have also decreased significantly since the ECB said it would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. The major risk which may eventually support the price of gold is further escalation of Middle East tensions, in particular those between Iran and Israel.