LME WEEK 2016: Nickel, copper to rise in 2017 - Macquarie survey

Copper and nickel are expected to be the bull markets for 2017 despite their comparatively poor year-to-date performances, delegates said at Macquarie Research's LME Week Base Metals Outlook Seminar.

Around 200 delegates from the metals and mining industries voted in a poll after a series of presentations on the global base metal markets, with more than 50% expecting copper prices to move above $4,900 per tonne by this time next year, including 33% who predicted it will rise to $5,200 per tonne.

Copper prices have dropped 13.5% since the same poll was conducted last year.

The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract closed the official session at $4,878 per tonne on November 1.

Some 46% of voters predicted that a resurgence in supply disruptions would lead copper out of its current range, with 28% fearing that Chinese demand could be weaker than expected.

Delegates were also bullish on nickel—79% see prices rising to $11,000 per tonne at this time next year, including 46% pegging it at $12,000 per tonne.

A potential export ban in the Philippines, the closure of loss-making capacity and continued growth in stainless steel output were the reasons given for a recovery in prices.

Delegates were less enthusiastic about this year's star performer, zinc, pulling off a similar price gain in 2017, with 37% seeing prices rising to $2,500 per tonne by next year's summit.

Zinc prices have risen more than 50% since the start of 2016, but concerns that Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore Plc could restart shuttered capacity at some point continue to hang over the market.

But aluminium was again a bone of contention, with 50% of voters saying that they would like to be short on aluminium over a 12-month month period, with 31% seeing prices at $1,600 per tonne in a year's time.

Macquarie head of base metals research Colin Hamilton pointed out that attendees at last year's summit were similarly gloomy, predicting that the metal would be at $1,528 per tonne at this time. However, the three-month contract is trading around 16-month highs of just below $1,740 per tonne.

This article was first published on www.fastmarkets.com.

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