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December 2017 | Base Metals

Metals prices get some lift, strong Chinese trade data supportive

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Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange are for the most part stronger this morning, Friday December 8, although tin prices are bucking the trend with a 0.2% decline. The rest are up by an average of 0.6%, ranged between gains of 0.8% for lead and zinc prices and 0.4% for aluminium and nickel prices, while copper prices are up by 0.7% at $6,606 per tonne.

Volume has been above average with 10,439 lots traded as of 07.30 am London time.

Precious metals are also firmer this morning with gold prices up by 0.1% at $1,248.61 per oz, while the rest are up between 0.3% and 0.5%, with palladium prices back above $1,000 per oz, at $1,016.60 per oz.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange today, base metals prices are mixed with nickel prices leading on the upside with a 1.5% gain, with copper, aluminium and zinc up between 0.4% and 0.5%, with copper prices at 51,700 yuan ($7,811) per tonne, while lead prices are down by1.1% and tin prices are off by 0.7%.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange today, base metals prices are mixed with nickel prices leading on the upside with a 1.5% gain, followed by copper, aluminium and zinc prices that are up by between 0.4% and 0.5%, with copper prices at 51,700 yuan ($7,814) per tonne. Meanwhile, lead prices are down by 1.1% and tin prices are off by 0.7%. Spot copper prices in Changjiang are up by 0.1% at 51,230-51,530 yuan per tonne and the LME vs Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio has eased to 7.83, from 7.85 on Thursday.

In other metals in China, iron ore prices are off by 1.2% at 506.50 yuan per tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. On the SHFE, steel rebar prices are up by 0.5%, while gold and silver prices down by 1% and 1.2% respectively.

In international markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are up by 0.31% at $62.24 per barrel and the yield on US 10-year treasuries is firmer at 2.38% and the German 10-year bund yield is little changed at 0.31%.

Equities in Asia this morning are firmer with gains seen across the board: Nikkei (1.39%), the Hang Seng (1.28%), the CSI 300 (0.81%), the ASX200 (0.28%) and the Kospi (0.08%). This follows strength in western markets on Thursday where in the United States the Dow Jones closed up by 0.29% at 24,211.48 and in Europe where the Euro Stoxx 50 closed up by 0.32% at 3,573.13.

The dollar index, at 93.92 is rallying and conversely most of the other major currencies are weaker with the euro at 1.175, the yen at 113.45 and the Australian dollar at 0.7515, while some headway on Brexit has boosted sterling to 1.3490.

The yuan remains flat at 6.6159, while the other emerging currencies we follow are giving back some of their recent gains.

Today’s economic agenda is busy: Japan’s cash earnings slipped to 0.6%, from 0.8% and its economy watchers sentiment dipped to 55.1 from 55.2. China’s trade balance was strong, showing imports and exports increased more than expected, while Germany’s trade balance eased to €19.9 billion ($23.5 billion) from €21.9 billion. Data out later includes French government budget balance, French industrial production, UK manufacturing and industrial production, construction spending, gross domestic product (GDP) estimates and goods trade balance, while US data is focused on the monthly employment report, wholesale inventories and University of Michigan consumer sentiment and inflation expectations.

The base metals are getting some lift this morning, this after consolidation yesterday and weakness earlier in the week. We have viewed the weakness of late as generally being driven by stale long liquidation and profit-taking and this seems to have been the case. The market has been concerned about a possible slowdown in China, but as the trade data out today shows, the economy and global economy look robust, which should be positive for metal demand, especially when supply is being restrained in China and elsewhere with Vale announcing some nickel production cuts. With the price weakness halted for now, we should get a feel for how strong underlying buying is.

The precious metals sold off heavily on Thursday, we think traders have been anticipating a likely interest rate rise at next week’s US Federal Open Market Committee meeting. In addition, with equities booming and geopolitical tensions low, the opportunity cost of holding gold has been high, which has not helped. The current climate is not that bullish for gold so prices may remain under pressure for a while.
This article was first published by FastMarkets as the Metals Morning View.

William Adams