• Bank loans in China were at new highs in January, with aggregate financing of 5.17 trillion yuan ($802 billion)
  • Optimism grows while focus is on vaccine rollout and US stimulus

Base metals
The London Metal Exchange three-month tin price retreated from recent multi-year highs and was recently quoted at $23,130 per tonne, down by 0.3% from Tuesday’s close. The rest of the complex was up between 0.4% for zinc, nickel and aluminium and 1.4% for copper that was recently quoted at $8,273 per tonne – a level not seen since February 2013. Lead was up by 0.8% – see table below for more details.

Volume has been strong on the LME with 15,406 lots traded as at 6.46am London time, compared with an average of 7,104 lots at a similar time on Monday and Tuesday. Copper’s volume of 9,907 lots, accounted for the bulk of trading.

The most-traded base metals contracts on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were for the most part stronger, the April contract on tin was down by 30 yuan per tonne, while the rest of the base metals were up by an average of 1.4%, with March copper up by 2.3% at 60,660 yuan per tonne.

Precious metals
Precious metals prices were up across the board by an average of 1%, but this was once again skewed by a 2.5% rise in platinum to $1,208 per oz. The other precious metals were up between 0.4% and 0.5%, with gold recently quoted at $1,844.15 per oz.

Wider markets

The yield on US 10-year treasuries has edged lower and was recently quoted at 1.15% this morning, down from 1.16% at a similar time on Tuesday.

Asian-Pacific equities were upbeat this morning: the Hang Seng (+1.71%), the CSI (+2.14%), the Nikkei (+0.19%), the Kospi (+0.52%) and the ASX 200 (+0.52%).

The US Dollar Index extended lower this morning, having started to show weakness on February 5; it was recently quoted at 90.37, this after 90.73 at a similar time on Tuesday. On February 5, it reached a high of 91.60.

The other major currencies were up this morning in the face of the weaker US dollar: the euro (1.2129), the yen (104.52), the Australian dollar (0.7747) and sterling (1.3820).

Key data

Data already out on Wednesday showed China’s consumer price index (CPI) fell by 0.3% year on year in January, after a 0.2% rise in December, while the producer price index (PPI) rose by 0.3% in January after a 0.4% fall in the prior month. China’s foreign direct investment was up 4.6% in January, after a year-to-date rise of 6.3% in December.

Out later, there is data on Germany’s CPI, France's industrial production and an estimate on UK gross domestic product.

US data includes the CPI, wholesale inventories, crude oil inventories and the Federal budget balance.

In addition, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell are scheduled to speak.

Today’s key themes and views

The metals continue to look strong with tin, copper and nickel all recently pushing the envelope on the upside, with the others working higher too. It appears that after consolidating in sideways-to-down trends for varying lengths of time that the metals are now ready to push higher again while the recovery gains momentum and government stimulus packages start to take effect.

Gold prices are on the rise within their sideways-to-down channel, silver and palladium prices are working higher, while platinum is rising from strength to strength and is at levels not seen since 2015. All in all, we feel a super-cycle is underway, driven by a global recovery and investment in electrification that will boost all the metals.