The most-traded March copper contract stood at 53,830 yuan ($8,365) per tonne as of 10.57am Shanghai time, up by 0.5% or 250 yuan from the previous session’s close, with around 139,000 lots having changed hands so far.

“The demand picture looks robust, global [purchasing managers’ indices] are running close to seven-year highs while supply is likely to remain constrained, so we could see price growth above 5% in copper this year,” commodity strategists at ETF Securities noted.

Aluminium prices were little changed this morning, shrugging off news that the primary aluminium market was in a deficit of 1.57 million tonnes for the first 11 months of last year, driven mainly by soaring demand, according to the World Bureau of Metal Statistics (WBMS). This represents a substantial increase from the 770,000 tonne deficit recorded for the whole of 2016.

Global aluminium demand growth, at 2.6%, in January-November 2017 outpaced that of production, which only rose by 1% year on year, analysts at WBMS said.

The base metals are likely to stick to narrow ranges with investors remaining cautious in the run-up to the release of key Chinese data later today - see data section below.

“The market appears to be becoming increasingly concerned the data today will be below expectations, which combined with the relatively bullish start to the year has resulted in the recent sell-off,” ANZ Research noted on Thursday.

Other metals mixed
  • The SHFE March aluminium contract edged 20 yuan higher to 14,650 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE March zinc contract price eased by 20 yuan to 26,035 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE March lead contract rose by 55 yuan to 19,250 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE May nickel contract price jumped 180 yuan to 97,130 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE May tin contract price declined by 430 yuan to 144,300 yuan per tonne.

Currency moves and data releases

  • The dollar index was down by 0.05% at 90.85 as of 10.31am Shanghai time - the dollar continues to push away from the December 2014 lows reached at the beginning of the week.
  • In other commodities, the Brent crude oil spot price was up by 0.19% to $69.54 per barrel as of 10:53 am Shanghai time.
  • In equities, the Shanghai Composite was up by 0.4% to 3458.53 as of 10.34 am Shanghai time.
  • In US data on Wednesday, the capacity utilization rate in December came in at 77.9%, above the forecast of 77.3%, while industrial production over the same period also exceeded expectations with a 0.9% reading.
  • Key data releases today include Chinese gross domestic product, fixed asset investment, a National Bureau of Statistics press conference and retail sales.
  • US data also out later includes building permits, housing starts, the Philly Fed Manufacturing Index, unemployment claims and crude oil inventories.

SHFE snapshot at 10.57am Shanghai time
Most-traded SHFE contracts
  Price (yuan per tonne) Change since previous session's close (yuan)
Copper (March) 53,830 250
Aluminium (March) 14,650 20
Zinc (March) 26,035 -20
Lead (March) 19,250 55
Tin  (May) 144,300 -430
Nickel  (May) 97,130 180

LME snapshot at 02.57am London time
Latest three-month LME Prices
  Price ($ per tonne) Change since previous session's close ($)
Copper 7,066 31.5
Aluminium 2,197 5
Lead 2,564 15
Zinc 3,385 17.5
Tin 20,395 -100
Nickel 12,455 45

Changjiang spot snapshot on January 18
  Range (yuan per tonne) Change (yuan)
Copper  53,500-53,540 -190
Aluminium 14,410-14,450 -20
Zinc 25,950-26,000 -110
Lead 19,100-19,300 50
Tin  143,000-145,000 -750
Nickel  96,550-96,950 -400