Oil prices decline as dollar firms up; gold hits eight-month low

Oil’s record start to 2021 was under pressure from a firming and a sell-off in the bond that spooked investors in risky assets. Gold prices, too, fell to their lowest in eight months on Friday, and were headed for a second straight weekly and monthly decline.

Spot gold was trading at 1,729.20 an ounce, down 2.39 per cent, in international market at 9 pm IST – the lowest since June 26 at $1,755.45. Prices were down 1.4% for the week and 4.8% for the month so far.

Brent in London fell at the end of a week that saw the steepest decline in the Nasdaq 100 since the pandemic meltdown and a fall across global indices. Yet the global benchmark crude has had its best ever start to a year as supplies tighten and pockets of demand return. Next week, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies meet to decide on output levels, with market gauges indicating strength. At 9 pm IST, Brent Crude was down over 1 per cent to $66.16 a barrel, while WTI was down nearly 2 per cent to $62.31 a barrel.

A sell-off in bond lifted the US dollar, making dollar-priced oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Friday’s gains also reflect profit-taking after both Brent and WTI headed towards monthly gains of about 20 per cent on supply disruptions in the US and optimism over demand recovery on the back of Covid-19 vaccination programmes.

Bitcoin declines, too

Bitcoin was headed on Friday for its worst week since March as a rout in global bond sent yields flying and sparked a sell-off in riskier assets.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency slipped as much as 6 per cent to $44,451 before recovering most of its losses. It was last trading at $47,310, on course for a drop of almost 20 per cent this week, which would be its heaviest weekly loss since March last year, when fears over the novel coronavirus caused havoc in financial markets.

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