In Brief

Written by fe Bureau | Updated: Jan 1 2010, 03:59am hrs
Oil hovers at around $79 ahead of US stock data

Oil held near $79 on Wednesday as cold weather in the United States and an expected fall in both US crude and distillate stocks including heating oil countered a firmer dollar, shoring up prices after a five-day rally. US crude for February delivery fell 13 cents to $78.74 a barrel by 1124 GMT in thin pre-holiday trade after touching a five-week high the previous day. London Brent crude for February rose 13 cents to $77.77 a barrel. A cold snap that has hit the main US heating hub on the northeast coast has boosted demand for oil products and helped drain swollen distillate stocks that this summer were at 26-year highs. Temperatures will remain unseasonably cold for the next 48 hours, according to private forecaster Meteorlogix.

Copper hits 16-month high

Copper climbed to a fresh 16-month high above $7,300 on Wednesday as rising demand expectations for 2010, combined with strike action in Chile, supported prices. Benchmark copper for three month delivery on the London Metal Exchange traded at $7,321 a tonne from $7,275 at the close on Tuesday. The metal, used in power and construction, earlier touched $7,380, its highest since September 4, 2008. There is ongoing support from indications of an improving outlook in 2010, said John Meyer, analyst at investment bank Fairfax.

Potato futures decline

Potato futures prices fell by 2.80% at the Multi Commodity Exchange on Wednesday on emergence of profit-taking by speculators due to subdued demand in spot market. Potato for May contract declined by Rs 18.30 or 2.80% to Rs 635 per quintal in business volume of one lot, while April contract also eased by Rs 5.90 or 0.91% to Rs 641.10 per quintal. Marketmen said the fall in potato futures prices was due to profit-booking by traders at existing higher levels amid subdued demand in spot markets. They said expectations of new arrivals in coming months also put pressure on the prices.

Mango kernel oil production

The Navsari Agriculture University (NAU) has developed a technology to manufacture mango kernel oil, widely used in cosmetics industry, NAU research director said on Wednesday. We have evolved the technology to manufacture mango kernel oil and shall be standardising the procedure for its extraction, NAU director research H C Pathak said. The kernel flakes or powder is mixed with the solvent, then heated and distilled to obtain oil, Pathak said, adding it is called the solvent extraction methodology for extracting oil from mango kernel. Through this technology, optimum usage of the seed can be ensured, which is usually discarded by the mango processing units, he said.

Milma chocolate in Kerala

As part of its product diversification, Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd on Wednesday launched five different varieties of chocolates under its brand name Milma chocolate. State minister for food and livestock C Divakaran said the federation would try to come out with more such products in coming days. Milky Beats, Choco Beats, Milky Thunder Mima Krispy and Milma Chocochat are the five types of chocolate launched by Milma in the market on Wednesday.

Gold edges lower

Gold edged down in Europe on Wednesday as a rise in the value of the dollar curbed interest in the precious metal as an alternative asset and made it more expensive for holders of other currencies. Trading in Europe, the United States and some parts of Asia was thinned by the Christmas and New Year holidays, with many market participants away until January 4. Spot gold was bid at $1,090.60 an ounce at 1202 GMT, against $1,096.55 late in New York on Tuesday.

Steel futures fall

Steel futures prices fell by 0.60% at the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday due to selling pressure at higher levels. At the NCDEX platform, January contract slipped by 0.60% or Rs 160 to Rs 26,600 per tonne, showing an open interest in 24,170 lots. February contract also eased by 0.48% or Rs 130 to Rs 27,000 per tonne, with an open interest of 10,750 lots. Marketmen said increased supply and reduced offtake by secondary steel makers in physical market attributed to fall in futures prices of steel.