Trades of Survivor System on 7 February. Real-time results are available at the following link: http://www.box.net/shared/5vajnzc4cp
Yet, at the same time and against a slightly stronger greenback, copper and tin that same night recorded new highs of $US9782 a tonne and $US30,240 a tonne respectively.
But those rises were driven more by improving economic news out of the US and continuing optimism about the Chinese economy than by the North African situation. Confusing, isn't it?
Oil, of course, hit its highest point since October 2008, even though Egypt is not an oil producer; it was more the Suez Canal factor -- although, as we shall see, the real oil game is China's rising imports of the black gold.
You see why the clear head will be necessary? And those dry hands and nerves will come into play if anything does go bump in the night in the Chinese economy. Pray for the property sector there, is the only advice available at this stage.
At the start of what could be an interesting year, two main factors are influencing the way commodities shape up. One is the global geopolitical situation.
There's nothing new in the way the markets reacted to the Egyptian crisis. Investors in troubled times will always race to hard assets.
Back in 1861, during the American Civil War, a US naval vessel had stopped a British vessel and removed two Confederate emissaries on their way to London. Washington waited for the reaction from London.
When the British newspapers arrived in New York, they reported that Britain, because of the outrage over the affront to its sovereignty, was sending troops to Canada and there was the possibility of a declaration of war against the northern states, this at a time when the war against the Confederacy was going badly. When the market reopened the next morning, there was panic on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as bonds were dumped and investors rushed into commodities, the then favourites being gold, saltpetre (an ingredient of gunpowder) and gunpowder itself.
The other factor is the supply-demand relationship. There is expected to be a deficit of about 500,000 tonnes of copper this year. Tin's price has been propelled almost entirely by the looming shortages, caused partly by problems with Indonesia's output.
Global steel production hit a new record last year. The World Steel Association has released figures that show output was 1.41 billion tonnes against 1.23bn tonnes the year before. This surprisingly robust increase was better than had been expected.
In fact, that's something you hear a lot from analysts these days. Everyone has, indeed, been impressed by the speed and strength of the bounce-back after the global financial crisis. Stimulus packages seem to have worked.
The result of the steel production growth is that it has a ripple effect.
Suddenly, iron ore supplies are tight; similarly with coking coal, exacerbated by the Queensland floods. Then there are all the other metals that go into steel products, including molybdenum, niobium, manganese and tungsten. No wonder prices are rising across the board. But no market runs up in a straight line indefinitely. Corrections and pullbacks are all part of the game. That's where the long-term picture comes into play.
By the end of January, we had seen five back-to-back months of gains in commodity prices, the longest winning streak since early 2000. The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index -- the one that matters when charting commodity prices -- was at its highest point since October 2008. The main propellants were copper, cotton and hogs, although cocoa hit a 30-year high. China beat growth forecasts and the US economy got a touch of colour back in its cheeks.
But you can stare at charts and indices all day, yet there's a certain seat-of-the-pants element to investing in commodities.
You just have to look around you; the trend is your friend if you have commodity positions. China and India are industrialising and new cities are being built. All those apartments need stainless steel (nickel), tiles (zircon) and wiring (copper), and their occupants will want to run wide-screen television sets (a range of commodities, including rare earths) and airconditioning in the summer (thermal coal and uranium to provide the electricity).
China has already mined most of the high-grade deposits of most minerals, and is working out lower-grade mines. Beijing's solution is to put its foot on as much high-grade material as it can around the world and then blend imports with domestic supplies to eke out its own resource base.
South Korea is establishing a strategic reserve of certain metals. It doesn't want to be left out as the squeeze on supply gets inevitably tighter.
Then there's the issue of hard assets versus paper money.
Jim Rogers, former partner of George Soros and now routinely described as a "legendary investor", doesn't worry about corrections in gold, copper, oil and other commodities. He has not wavered in recent years in terms of his bullishness when it comes to commodities.
There hasn't been what he calls "a major elephant oilfield discovery" in more than 40 years. What, he asks, does that tell you about the oil price?
If you put money into the stockmarket, put it into commodity stocks, is his advice.
"If the world economy gets better, commodities are going to make a fortune. If the world economy does not get better, commodities are the place to be because they're gonna print more money. This is the time when you should own real assets, not stocks and bonds," he adds.
But, even so, the real picture out there tells the story.
Last year China's imports rose above 100 million tonnes of thermal coal and 10 million barrels of oil a day for the first time. It's hard to be a bear with those sorts of figures.