Fed fuels commodity price spike

@CNNMoneyInvest November 30, 2011: 4:20 PM ET
oil prices, commodities

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Commodity prices across the board moved higher Wednesday, with oil prices topping $100 per barrel for the second time in almost six months. And experts said this time they could actually keep climbing.

"We could look back at today and identify it as the catalyst that put a floor on commodity prices," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst PFG Best.

Oil prices were up 57 cents, or 0.6%, at $100.36. Oil had surged nearly 2% at one point Wednesday. Crude prices finished above $100 a barrel earlier this month for the first time since May.

Metal prices also soared. Gold spiked nearly 2% while silver jumped 3% and copper rallied more than 5%.

The advance in commodity prices came after the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank joined forces with four other top central banks to inject liquidity in global markets. The coordinated effort makes it cheaper for banks around the world to borrow U.S. dollars, at a time where they're crunched for cash thanks to Europe's debt crisis.

Welcome to the Great Global Easing

While the steps are meant to "ease strains in financial markets," according to the Fed, they devalue the dollar and in turn, boost commodity prices that are priced in the greenback.

Higher energy prices are often considered a headwind that could stall the global economic recovery, but the alternative could be worse, said Flynn.

"Driving up commodity prices could absolutely slow economic growth," he said. "But if you don't add liquidity, banks could start to fail in Europe. The central banks view that as a bigger danger to the economy than the increase in oil prices."

The People's Bank of China's separate easing initiative also helped boosted global financial markets, including commodities. After raising reserve requirements five times this year, China reversed course and cut the amount of money banks need to hold in reserves, freeing those funds to stimulate the Chinese economy.

"This could be the second biggest global economic intervention in history," said Flynn. "The last time we saw this many parties flood the economy with stimulus was in the fall of 2008, when things were falling apart. Those moves set the stage for the longest commodities rally in history." Oil prices fell near $30 a barrel in December 2008 and have more than tripled since.

Now that the central banks have extended a helping hand, Flynn thinks oil prices could climb to $120 a barrel in the near-term. Plus, prices could find support if the U.S. economy continues to show signs of life, and amid unrest in Iran, a major oil exporter.

Flynn thinks the Fed's measures could drive the cost of gold, which is used to hedge against inflation, to $2,000 before the end of the year. To top of page

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