A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:
ENERGY - US oil prices rallied on Wednesday after an inventory report showed a smaller-than-expected increase in oil stocks.
US oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery settled 44 cents higher at $94.64 a barrel.
European benchmark Brent oil futures for delivery in May closed at $105.79, down 44 cents.
The US Energy Information Administration released a report Wednesday that showed US crude reserves grew by 250,000 barrels in the week ending April 5.
The build pushed US commercial stocks to 388.9 million barrels, not far from the all-time record of 391.9 million barrels in July 1990.
But the increase was far less than market expectations for a gain of 1.2 million barrels, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.
The report also showed a solid increase in refinery utilisation, which jumped to 86.8 per cent from 86.3 per cent the prior week.
The refineries jump means "demand for US crude is growing," said Andy Lebow, senior vice president for energy futures at Jefferies Bache.
US oil prices also garnered upward momentum from the buoyant equity markets.
PRECIOUS METALS - Gold slumped Wednesday in the largest decline since November as details from the US Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting showed more discussion on throttling back on the central bank's easy-money policies.
The most actively traded contract, for June delivery, fell $US27.90, or 1.8 per cent, to settle at $US1,558.80 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Some Fed policy makers said at the March meeting that the central bank would be able to cut back on its bond-buying program by midyear, according to minutes released Wednesday.
"The Fed is talking about rolling off QE before the end of the year," said Zachary Oxman, a managing director with brokerage TrendMax, referring to the policy of so-called quantitative easing.
"That's not supportive for gold. The markets continue to buy into the view that an economic recovery is underway."
The gold market has been rattled by worries that a steadily growing US economy would spur the Federal Reserve to end its easy-money policies sooner than some had anticipated.
Efforts by the Fed and other central banks to boost the amount of cash in the financial system played a key role in gold's rise to record highs in recent years, analysts say.
Some investors buy gold as a hedge against the inflation that can follow easy-money policies. Futures had traded at about $US1,579 an ounce ahead of the release of the Fed's minutes.
BASE METALS - Base metals were mostly lower at the close of London Metal Exchange trading Wednesday, weighed by concern over Chinese metal demand and a lack of clarity over the direction of US monetary policy.
At the PM kerb close, LME three-month copper was down 0.7 per cent at $US7,574 a metric ton. Aluminum was 0.5 per cent lower at $US1,909.50/tonne.
News of a 30.8 per cent on-year decline in Chinese copper imports in March weighed on market sentiment Wednesday, indicating that many consumers are still well supplied with copper after record amounts of the metal were brought into the country in 2012.
China is the world's top consumer of base metals.
"Chinese base metals import data for copper were disappointing and this together with ever increasing inventory levels is keeping prices and sentiment pegged back," said Sucden Financial.
LME copper inventories rose a further 375 tonnes Tuesday, bringing total stockpiles to a fresh 10-year higher at 587,925 tonnes.
Markets were also caught somewhat off guard Wednesday when the Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes for March were released five hours earlier than scheduled, at 1300 GMT.
The minutes showed that committee members were continuing to debate the timeline for ending the central bank's stimulus efforts.
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