LIVE FUTURES REPORT 20/03: SHFE copper prices down amid risk-off tone ahead of FOMC meeting

Base metal prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were broadly lower during Asian morning trading on Tuesday March 20 amid a risk-off tone in financial markets ahead of the United States Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.

The most-traded May copper contract on the SHFE was at 51,330 yuan ($8,099) per tonne as of 10.17am Shanghai time, down 90 yuan per tonne from Monday’s closing price, with around 142,000 lots of the contract traded.

The US central bank is widely expected to raise its policy rate by 25 basis points, taking the Federal Funds target rate to 1.5-1.75%.

“While it appears that a rate increase is a foregone conclusion, markets will be looking for clues as to the pace of further monetary tightening this year,” Shaun Murison, market analyst at IG, said on Tuesday.

“It is expected that 2018 will bring three interest rate hikes from the Fed, including this one. However, there is growing speculation that the policy makers on the FOMC may provide more hawkish guidance at the meeting, raising the possibility of four rate increases this year.”

The risk-off sentiment in markets also resulted in downward pressure on global equity markets - the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 336 points or 1.35% to close at 24,610.91 on Monday.

Base metal prices were also weighed down by weak Chinese property data, ANZ Research said on Tuesday.

The number of Chinese cities reporting stronger house prices fell to its lowest in five months in February. House prices gained in only 44 of the 70 cities tracked, compared with 52 in January, ANZ said, citing data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

Aluminium, nickel prices edge up; rest lower

  • The SHFE May aluminium contract rose 50 yuan to 14,010 yuan per tonne.
  • “The rebound in SHFE aluminium prices is limited because domestic inventories continue to reach new highs, increasing supply pressures,” China’s Ruida Futures said late on Monday.
  • The SHFE May zinc contract fell 65 yuan to 24,740 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE May lead contract price decreased 15 yuan to 18,330 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE July nickel contract gained 10 yuan 102,180 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE May tin contract price eased 760 yuan to 144,090 yuan per tonne.

Currency moves and data releases
  • The dollar index fell 0.05% to 89.87 as of 10.13am Shanghai time. The index had reached as high as 90.38 on March 16, the highest since March 1, on strong US economic data.
  • In other commodities, the Brent crude oil spot price rose 0.09% to $66.19 per barrel as of 10.14am Shanghai time.
  • In equities, the Shanghai Composite eased by 0.28% to 3,270.00 as of 10.14am Shanghai time.
  • It is a quiet day for the economic agenda with mainly the United Kingdom’s consumer price index of note, while the G20 meetings continue in Argentina today.

SHFE snapshot at 10:17am Shanghai time
Most-traded SHFE contracts
  Price (yuan per tonne) Change since previous session's close (yuan)
Copper (May) 51,330 -90
Aluminium (May) 14,010 50
Zinc (May) 24,740 -65
Lead (May) 18,330 -15
Tin  (May) 144,090 -760
Nickel  (July) 102,180 10

LME snapshot at 02:17am London time
Latest three-month LME Prices
  Price ($ per tonne) Change since previous session's close ($)
Copper 6,839.50 -14.5
Aluminium 2,089 1
Lead 2,362 -5
Zinc 3,237 -24
Tin N/A N/A
Nickel 13,520 40

Changjiang spot snapshot on March 20
  Range (yuan per tonne) Change (yuan)
Copper  50,910-50,930 10
Aluminium 13,780-13,820 60
Zinc 24,660-24,710 -150
Lead 18,400-18,600 -100
Tin  143,500-145,500 -250
Nickel  101,300-101,800 50

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