Metals find support but little upside energy

FastMarkets

There is generally a firmer tone in the base metals traded on the London Metal Exchange this morning, Friday April 28, with three-month prices up an average of 0.3%, while tin is the only metal showing a loss.

The rest of the complex is up between 0.1% for copper prices that are at $5,720 per tonne and 1% for nickel prices at $9,440 per tonne. Volume remains light with 5,582 lots traded as of 06:28 BST.

In precious metals this morning, platinum and palladium prices lead the gains with prices up 0.6% and 0.4%, respectively, while gold prices are little changed at $1,264.80 per oz and silver prices are up 0.2% at $17.30 per oz.

Metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange are for the most part higher this morning, the exception is aluminium, where prices are down 1.2%. Copper prices are little changed at 46,290 yuan per tonne, the rest are stronger with zinc prices up 0.5%, tin prices up 0.9%, lead prices up 1.1% and nickel prices up 1.9%.

Spot copper prices in Changjiang are slightly firmer at 46,150-46,300 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arb ratio is weaker, trading at around 8.09.

In other metals in China, September iron ore futures are up 4.3% on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, while on the SHFE, steel rebar prices are up 3.6% and gold and silver prices are little changed.

In international markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are up 0.5% at $52.31 per barrel and the yield on the US ten-year treasuries has eased to 2.29%.

The Euro Stoxx 50 closed down 0.4% on Thursday and Dow was little changed at 20,981.33. In Asia this morning, the markets are mainly weaker with the Nikkei and Hang Seng down 0.4%, the CSI 300 is off 0.8%, the Kospi is down 0.2% and the ASX 200 is little changed. End of month profit-taking combined with raised concerns over North Korea seem to be weighing on sentiment.

The dollar index at 99.21 has halted its slide and is getting some lift, although there is resistance at 99.33 and a gap up to 99.89. The euro at 1.0862 has given back some of its recent gains, the yen at 111.17 has pulled back from recent low of 111.78, the Australian dollar is consolidating in low ground around 0.7474, while the sterling creeps higher – it was recently quoted at 1.2906.

In emerging market (EM) currencies, the yuan is little changed at 6.8932, while most of the other EM currencies we follow are weaker, the exception being the ringgit. This suggests some potential pick-up in risk-off.

There is a mass of data out today, see table below for details. Japan’s industrial production was worse than expected, but retail sales and housing starts were better, French GDP came in at 0.3%, later there is GDP and CPI numbers out across much of Europe, with US data including GDP, Chicago PMI, University of Michigan consumer sentiment and inflation expectations, plus US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members Lael Brainard and Patrick Harker are speaking.

Our stance of remaining quietly bullish for the base metals into the recent weakness, while we wait for the fundamentals to tighten up again, seems to be paying off as support levels have been found and prices are edging higher. There is not much bullishness around though and with volumes quite light it does not look as though the market is about to pick up momentum. As such, we see the market as fairly well balanced with a reasonable demand outlook, but a market that is generally still well supplied given the extra metal units that were sucked out of the woodwork with the run-up in prices between November and February.

Gold prices are on a back footing, but they are holding up quite well, which is probably a result of geopolitical concerns over North Korea and due to the dollar weakness. There are also some signs that physical demand in China and India is picking up again, weak demand in these major consuming countries has not helped gold’s fundamentals. Silver and platinum prices have not held up as well as gold, while palladium extended its high price on Thursday and pushed the envelope even further today with a high of $819 per oz.

Metal Bulletin publishes live futures reports throughout the day, covering major metals exchanges news and prices.