Despite the shortened week for the 4th of July, there were plenty of fireworks within the volatile world of commodities. In our continuing effort to keep Fools up to speed with the fast-moving world of commodities, this column hones in on the stories that moved the markets for this trading week. Let's see how the fireworks turned out.
As oil leapt into the $140s with conviction, the U.S. Dollar index flirted with the 72 mark, and gold topped $945 an ounce on Wednesday. By far the most dramatic price action of the week, though, came from Wednesday's sudden correction in the red-hot coal sector, and a simultaneous pounding of steelmakers' stocks. Massey Energy (NYSE: MEE ) plummeted nearly 19% yesterday, while recent four-bagger Patriot Coal (NYSE: PCX ) gave up almost 15%.
While one might expect steel companies to stage a mini-rally on a down day for coal, quite the opposite occurred. Shares of ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT ) fell more that $6 per share, owing perhaps in part to a report by Bloomberg indicating that some customers were unwilling to pay a $250-per-ton surcharge on top of existing fixed-price contracts.
Peru strike labors on
Copper prices surged above $4 per pound recently as the miners' strike in Peru continued to gain momentum. Unions announced that the strike would in fact spread to the huge Cerro Verde copper mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX ) , and operations remained halted at Buenaventura's Uchucchacua silver mine. Meanwhile, workers at the world-class Yanacocha gold mine operated by Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM ) are considering whether to join the strike as well. BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP ) assured investors that the strike has had only a minimal impact upon production at the company's Antamina copper-zinc mine.
Commodity consolidation drama
Further indications of increased consolidation through the commodities sectors are surfacing. The latest star of the rumor mill was ArcelorMittal, which reportedly took an interest in forging a stake in every Fool's favorite takeover target: Rio Tinto (NYSE: RTP ) . Meanwhile, Korean steelmaker POSCO joined ArcelorMittal as a major stakeholder in Australian coal miner Macarthur Coal.
Fools invested in commodity equities, stay with us next week as we set out once again to cover the market-moving events within these volatile sectors.
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