LIVE FUTURES REPORT 02/05: LME prices recover with participants returning to the market after holidays

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange were mostly up on Wednesday May 2, after participants in China and Europe returned from public holidays to boost volumes and prices.

“The much anticipated return of the Chinese traders had the desired and expected effect as value bids helped bolster prices that have been slumping,” Marex Spectron said.

Nickel was the strongest performer this morning, recovering 1.2% to climb briefly back above $14,000 per tonne.

“Considering all of its fundamental dynamics, nickel still has a lot of upside to offer in 2018. The metal has another market deficit in store and underlying global demand has remained fairly robust,” Metal Bulletin analyst Andy Farida said.

Aluminium prices have been boosted by further cancellations at LME-listed warehouses with 44,900 tonnes cancelled this morning, the majority in Port Klang.
The softening of US sanctions against Russian aluminium producer UC Rusal and an extended deadline for Europe’s exemption from US tariffs could have put pressure on the three-month aluminium price but it remains well supported by falling available stock levels on the exchange.

“Aluminium is still in a place of uncertainty – we are still seeing deliveries out and cancellations. It is very sensitive to any news regarding Rusal but for now there is enough to support prices,” a trader said.

On-warrant LME stocks have fallen 11% since the Rusal sanctions announcement by the US Department of the Treasury on April 6.

The rest of the complex followed suit with the majority of prices recovering well after a weaker day on Tuesday where the stronger dollar weighed on the complex.

Zinc continued to recover from its dip earlier this week and pushed back above $3,100 per tonne to recover from Tuesday’s six-month low, while sister metal lead also pushed higher.

Tin was the only base metal to buck the trend – falling $35 per tonne but the cash/three-month spread is tightening – down from over $250 per tonne backwardation a week ago to $135 per tonne this morning.

Base metals up; tin bucks trend

  • The three-month copper price climbed $85 at $6,830 per tonne. Stocks fell a net 1,300 tonnes to 324,225 tonnes.
  • Aluminium’s three-month price increased $4 to $2,264 per tonne. Inventories dipped by 2,500 tonnes to 1,323,425 tonnes.
  • The three-month nickel price is trading at $13,940 per tonne, up $285. Stocks were unchanged at 306,762 tonnes.
  • Zinc’s three-month price was up $49 at $3,101 per tonne. Inventories dipped by 275 tonnes to 237,000 tonnes.
  • The three-month lead price is trading $35 higher at $2,328 per tonne. Stocks were down 50 tonnes at 130,725 tonnes.
  • Tin’s three-month price is down $35 at $21,175 per tonne. Inventories were unchanged at 2,225 tonnes.

Currency moves and data releases

  • The dollar index was down 0.15% at 92.35.
  • In other commodities, Brent crude oil was up 0.8% at $73.39 per barrel.
  • In US data on Tuesday, the final manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for April met expectations at 56.5, likewise for April ISM manufacturing prices at 79.3. April ISM manufacturing PMI, however, disappointed at 57.3, as did March construction spending at -1.7%.
  • US data including the ADP non-farm employment change, crude oil inventories alongside the Federal Open Market Committee’s rate decision and statement are due later today.
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