The most-traded May lead contract on the SHFE increased to 18,705 yuan ($2,980) per tonne as of 10.02am Shanghai time, up by 135 yuan or 0.7% from the previous day’s close of 18,570 yuan per tonne.

Improved demand and falling stock levels are underpinning prices for lead, according to market participants.

“The [decline in exchange stocks] is due to domestic suppliers not having much available spot material on hand, so they need to withdraw stocks from the exchange, which indicates an improvement in demand for lead. We are waiting to see if this trend will continue this week,” a trader based in the Chinese province of Zhejiang said.

SHFE lead stocks totaled 26,343 tonnes on March 23, a week on week fall of 7,516 tonnes. Stocks are now down by 37% since the beginning of the year.

“Stock flows will be key to gauging availability in the domestic market while both smelters and battery manufacturers face environmental constraints. Stocks remain low, however, and offer little cushion,” Metal Bulletin analyst James Moore noted.

Meanwhile, the other base metals were flat to weaker this morning on the back of a firmer dollar and a lack of clear direction in the market, with participants likely to be paying close attention to major data releases from the United States later today - see data section below.

Base metals prices
  • The SHFE May copper contract decreased by 50 yuan or 0.1% to 49,570 yuan per tonne.
  • “News that Antofagasta has avoided a strike at its Los Pelambres copper mine also kept the upside limited for copper prices,” ANZ Research noted on Wednesday.
  • The SHFE May zinc contract eased by 20 yuan per tonne or 0.1% to 24,930 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE July nickel contract fell by 590 yuan or 0.6% to 97,090 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE May tin contract price retreated by 870 yuan or 0.6% to 141,050 yuan per tonne.
  • The SHFE May aluminium contract was unchanged at 13,825 yuan per tonne.

Currency moves and data releases

  • The dollar index was down by 0.06% at 89.27 as of 11.09am Shanghai time - the recent low being 88.98 on Monday.
  • In other commodities, the Brent crude oil spot price was up by 0.03% to $69.61 per barrel as of 11.09am Shanghai time.
  • In equities, the Shanghai Composite was up by 0.11% to 3,294.67 as of 10.40am Shanghai time.
  • In US data on Tuesday, the S&P/CS Composite-20 HPI increased 6.4%, while the CB consumer confidence disappointed at 127.7.
  • In data today, we have CBI realized sales and GfK consumer confidence from the United Kingdom as well as a host of US data including final gross domestic product (GPD), goods trade balance, preliminary wholesale inventories, pending home sales and crude oil inventories.
  • In addition, US Federal Open Market Committee member Raphael Bostic is speaking.

LME snapshot at 03.02am London time
Latest three-month LME Prices
Price ($ per tonne)  Change since yesterday's close ($)
Copper 6,659.5 10.5
Aluminium 2,044 -1
Lead 2,399 -7
Zinc 3,286.5 11.5
Tin 20,875 0
Nickel 12,980 -20

SHFE snapshot at 10.02am Shanghai time
Most-traded SHFE contracts
Price (yuan per tonne)  Change since yesterday's close (yuan)
Copper (May) 49,570 -50
Aluminium (May) 13,825 0
Zinc (May) 24,930 -20
Lead (May) 18,705 135
Tin (May) 141,050 -870
Nickel (July) 97,090 -590

Changjiang spot snapshot on March 28
Range (yuan per tonne)  Change (yuan)
Copper  49,200-49,220 -100
Aluminium 13,620-13,660 -30
Zinc 24,980-25,780 0
Lead 18,700-18,900 50
Tin  141,500-142,500 -500
Nickel  96,850-97,450 -200