EUROPEAN MORNING BRIEF 15/02: Zinc price forecast; possible trade remedies from Section 232; US lead scrap prices

Good morning from Metal Bulletin’s office in Singapore as we bring you the latest news and pricing stories on Thursday February 15.

Base metals traded on the London Metal Exchange were broadly higher during Asian morning trading on Thursday February 15, though trading remained subdued with Chinese participants out for the week-long Lunar New Year break.

Copper and nickel prices led on the upside with aluminium and lead registering slight gains, helped by continued weakness in the dollar, while tin was unchanged and zinc was the only metal to lose ground so far this morning.

Check Metal Bulletin's live futures report here.

LME snapshot at 03.36am London time
Latest three-month LME Prices
  Price ($ per tonne) Change since previous session's close ($)
Copper 7,190 27
Aluminium 2,183 5
Lead 2,591 12
Zinc 3,563 -4.5
Tin 21,550 0
Nickel 14,140 40

The global zinc market is riding a wave of solid demand and historically low stock levels, leading to a cyclical uptick that will peak at $4,300 per tonne in 2019, according to Jonathan Leng of Wood Mackenzie.

Trade remedies that may be implemented as a result of the United States’ Section 232 investigation into aluminium imports may utilize a nuanced approach as part of the government’s effort to curb transshipment and duty evasion concerns.

Some lead scrap prices stepped higher in the United States due to a combination of firm domestic demand and strong overseas competition, while spent lead-acid battery prices maintained a steady footing.

A rise in Chinese zinc production over the coming years will coincide with either a fall or a moderation in that country’s demand for the material, according to Claire Hassall, director and zinc market specialist at base metal research firm CHR Metals.

An uptick in Chinese zinc mine production combined with a reduction in demand should push LME prices lower in the second half of this year, a senior base metals analyst at Macquarie Group said.

Prices for stainless steel in East Asia held steady with many participants exiting the market for the Lunar New Year holiday.

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