ASIAN MORNING BRIEF 05/01: Base metals mostly rebound on LME; lithium said likely to remain in tight supply for up to 10 years; zinc premiums inch up in Europe for 2018 contracts

The latest news and price moves to start the Asian day on Friday January 5.

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange ended mostly higher on Thursday January 4, with only tin bucking the overall trend as of the 5pm close in London. Read more in our live futures report. However, lead joined the descent later in the evening.

Here are how prices looked at the end of the day on Thursday.

The current tightness in the lithium market is set to remain for up to a decade due to delays in securing the appropriate regulatory framework in Chile, the executive director of junior miner Wealth Minerals told Metal Bulletin in an interview.

European zinc premiums have risen slightly for 2018 contracts compared with a year ago, multiple sources told Metal Bulletin, citing higher transportation costs. The 2018 premiums in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Italy have increased by about $5-10 per tonne.

Copper bulls might have set the metal up for a price fall in 2018 after a staggering December rally saw prices reach four-year highs, Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann told Metal Bulletin.

The catalysts that fueled the copper price rally in 2017 – a scorching Chinese property market, extended outages at some of the world’s largest mines and upbeat global growth prospects – are reappearing this year. Whether prices will continue to soar could be determined in this quarter.

The drive for greater transparency in financial markets was set to shift into gear at the start of January as the second iteration of Europe’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) took effect. MiFID – the European Union’s first regulatory update to the directive since 2004 – kicked in on Wednesday January 3 and is designed to make European markets safer and more transparent as well as identify and target conflicts of interest in trading.

Heavy Chinese investment in Indonesian nickel smelting and stainless steel production means that an increasing quantity of nickel ore mined in the country will be consumed internally from 2018 onward.

Although Indonesia’s bauxite shipments to China are expected to grow in 2018, years of absence from the market due to the country’s export ban means its traditional role as primary supplier is unlikely to be regained any time soon.

Kaz Minerals will invest $1.2 billion to expand its Aktogay copper processing facility in Kazakhstan to bring an extra 80,000 tonnes of copper capacity to the market by 2022.

Brazil’s primary aluminium exports fell by 35% in 2017, reaching the lowest level on record as the two remaining local producers focused on the domestic market.

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