Metals prices consolidate ahead of option declaration, volume is high

FastMarkets

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange are for the most part weaker this morning, Wednesday August 2. Aluminium is the exception, its prices are up 0.7% at $1,923 per tonne, while the rest are off by an average of 0.2%, with zinc prices off 0.5% and copper prices off 0.3% at $6,328 per tonne. Volume has been high at 12,379 lots as of 07:15 BST – this may be due to it being option declaration this morning.

This comes after a day of general weakness on Tuesday when the complex closed off by an average of 0.3%, led by a 1% drop in tin prices to $20,525 per tonne, with zinc off 0.5% and copper and aluminium off 0.4%, nickel was little changed and lead bucked the trend with a 0.3% gain.

Precious metals are split this morning with bullion prices off around 0.4%, with spot gold prices at $1,265.15 per oz, while the PGMs are little changed. On Tuesday, silver prices dropped 0.7%, gold prices closed little changed at $1,268.65, but earlier in the day prices had extended gains by trading up to $1,274 per oz, while the PGMs were up either side of 0.7%

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) this morning, aluminium prices are up by 2.2%, lead prices are up 0.4%, while the rest are weaker, led by a 1.2% drop in tin prices, with copper prices off 0.6% at 50,020 yuan ($7,434) per tonne and zinc prices off 0.5%. Spot copper prices in Changjiang are down 0.4% at 49,850-50,050 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arb ratio is at 7.91.

In other metals in China, September iron ore prices on the Dalian Commodity Exchange have given back some recent gains, prices are off 1.1% at 567 yuan per tonne. On the SHFE, steel rebar prices are up 0.5%, while gold prices are off 0.1% and silver prices are off 0.4%.

In international markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are little changed at $51.41 per barrel, the yield on US ten-year treasuries is weaker at 2.26% and the German ten-year bund yield is weaker at 0.49%.

Equities were stronger on Tuesday with the Euro Stoxx 50 closing up 0.8% and the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite closing up between 0.2% and 0.3%, lifted by earnings and US financial stocks. Asian markets are mainly firmer as they follow the USA’s lead with the Nikkei up 0.5%, the Hang Seng is up 0.7%, the Kospi is up 0.2%, the CSI 300 is little changed, while the ASX 200 is off 0.5%.

The dollar index remains weak at 93.01, the recent lows being 92.78. The euro is strong at 1.1826, but is consolidating, sterling is strong at 1.3211, the yen is weaker at 110.72, as is the Australian dollar at 0.7964. The yuan at 6.7255 is consolidating, the high on Tuesday being 6.7145. The rand and peso are weaker, the rupee is stronger, while the other emerging currencies we follow are little changed-to-firmer.

Data out last night showed US total vehicle sales of 16.7 million units, annualised, which was up from 16.5 million units in June. Data out today, includes UK shop prices, Japan’s monetary base and consumer confidence that picked up to 43.8 from 43.3, while later we have the Spanish unemployment change, UK construction PMI, EU PPI, US ADP non-farm employment change and crude oil inventories.

After follow-through strength on Monday, copper prices have been consolidating, they are generally holding up well, but have lost upward momentum. Today’s option declaration may be one reason for this, although with copper generally going it alone, potential buyers may be thinking twice about the need to chase prices higher. Nickel is the metal that is following copper closest, followed by tin, while lead, zinc and aluminium have been reluctant to follow, although today, aluminium and lead are showing some strength. We wait to see if there is more broad-based upward direction once option declaration is out of the way.

Gold prices are holding up well, they have in recent days broken up above the long-term downtrend line, which started off the 2011 highs, with the weaker dollar and lower treasury yields helping to provide support. Key will be whether the dollar continues to remain weak, which is likely to mean the US Federal Reserve has to remain less than hawkish, which may be a big ask. Outside the financial drivers, any pick-up in geopolitical issues could also fuel the rally. Silver is following gold’s lead, it has the potential to see short-covering emerge, platinum is also tagging along behind gold, while palladium’s latest rebound appears to have run into some selling ahead of previous high ground.

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