Spurred on by unrest in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, the prices of both gold and oil continued to climb on Wednesday, with the former setting its second consecutive record and the latter hitting a 2½-year high.
Reuters reported that gold, which entered record territory on Tuesday, was up 0.6% in midmorning European trading to $1,459.40 an ounce, having backed down from an all-time high of $1,460.40 earlier. The precious metal has gained over 5% in the past three weeks, with 2% of that in the past week alone. Silver leapfrogged ahead to hit a level it hasn’t seen in 31 years. Spot silver reached $39.50 an ounce, after an early rise of 0.8% to $39.54.
Oil was on the move as well, with Brent crude trading over $122 per barrel in morning trading and U.S.crude hitting $108.20 per barrel. These are levels it has not seen for 2½ years. Anticipation of an increase in interest rates from the European Central Bank (ECB) is contributing to oil’s rise; on Thursday the ECB is expected to act to rein in inflation, and the expectation has driven the euro to a 14-month high.
Olivier Jakob, of Petromatrix, was quoted as saying, "Central bankers will always claim that they have no influence on oil prices but recent history has repetitively shown that in the new world where commodities are a global asset, central bankers can have a greater influence on oil prices than OPEC."
U.S. stockpiles, to be announced later in the day, were expected to reflect an increase; this is thought to be driving the lower price of U.S. crude. Commerzbank analysts said in a note, "It is hardly surprising that U.S. oil is not able to keep up with the latest rally and is even tending a little softer. This is because the tensions in North Africa are largely behind the rise in prices while the supply situation in the U.S. essentially remains relaxed."