ASIAN MORNING BRIEF 24/01: Copper prices tumble on LME; series of put options signal surge in LME copper deliveries; US aluminium 232 report delivered

The latest news and price moves to start the Asian day on Wednesday January 24.

The three-month copper contract on the London Metal Exchange plummeted by more than 2% at the close on Tuesday January 23 after on-warrant stocks hit their highest level since October 20, 2017. Read more in our live futures report.

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

A series of put options bought at bearish strike prices served as an indication of potential copper deliveries onto the LME, market sources said after more than 36,000 tonnes of the metal hit LME sheds on Tuesday. LME stocks surged by 17% when updated warehouse stock data showed several large deliveries on the exchange, notably 23,625 tonnes in Busan, South Korea.

Now that US Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross has delivered the long-awaited Section 232 report on the impact of aluminium imports to President Donald Trump, the renewed prospect of trade action could drive prices upward, market participants said.

China, the world’s largest zinc-producing country, produced 6.22 million tonnes of refined zinc in 2017. That’s down 0.7% from the prior year, according to data published by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.

China’s monthly refined copper output reached an all-time high of 865,000 tonnes in December 2017, the NBS also found. This brought full-year production for 2017 to 8.89 million tonnes, up 7.7% year on year from 8.44 million tonnes.

A sustained deficit in the global copper market due to stagnant copper supply is helping to prop up futures prices. But global premiums remain stubbornly docile, foreshadowing a cap on copper prices in the near term.

Metal Bulletin Research topped the base metals leaderboard in the Apex fourth-quarter 2017 contest, with an accuracy rating of 99.35%.

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