LIVE FUTURES REPORT 03/04: SHFE base metals prices mostly down; Cu, Al up marginally

Barring that of copper and aluminium, base metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were weaker during morning trading on Friday April 3.

But price moves in either direction were limited while participants look for direction in a volatile market that is being continually battered by worries over the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on global economic growth.

Data from the United States overnight showed unemployment claims surged to a fresh record high in the week ended March 28, coming in at 6.648 million, an increase of 3.341 million from the previous week’s upwardly revised 3.307 million. The figures are the latest to highlight the devastating economic impact the virus is having on the US economy.

Prior to the previous week’s increase, the sharpest rise in US unemployment claims was in 1982 when filings rose by 695,000.

A surge in oil prices overnight also provided a slight bump to market sentiment, but gains were given back in the early session on Friday while investors digested the news of potential production cuts. The price of WTI crude declining by 4.38% to $24.21 per barrel as at 11.58 am Shanghai time – this after jumping almost 25% $25.32 per barrel on Thursday. The international benchmark, Brent crude, rose 21% to finish at $29.94 per barrel on Thursday.

“Crude oil prices soared higher after reports major producers would cut production. However, we believe any agreement on production cuts will have minimal impact on the oil market,” David Plank, head of Australian economics at ANZ, said in a morning note.

“The closing of borders and lockdowns has had a precipitous impact on oil demand. Flight activity has fallen by more than 60% over the past month, while traffic in the US and Europe is down 60% and 45% respectively. Overall we calculate world crude oil demand has fallen by about 20 million barrels per day,” Plank added.

Copper is trying to find support from the firmer oil price but market concerns over Covid-19 and its economic impact continue to stifle any gains in the red metal.

“Copper prices continue to consolidate, supported by recent supply disruptions as well increasing activity in China,” Fastmarkets’ analyst James Moore said.

“Despite this we believe the impact of coronavirus-related demand destruction on the underlying fundamentals will continue to overhang price sentiment, while the current chart suet up suggest short-term risks remain skewed to the downside,” Moore added.

Copper was up marginally on the SHFE on Friday morning; the most-traded copper contract rose to 39,680 yuan ($5,592) per tonne at the close of morning trading, up by 30 yuan per tonne or 0.1% from Thursday’s close of 39,650 yuan per tonne.

Aluminium was the only other metal to record a gain this morning, with its June contract rising by 0.4% or 50 yuan per tonne to 11,525 yuan per tonne.

The rest of the complex was weaker: June nickel at 92,260 yuan per tonne (-0.7%), May lead at 13,700 yuan per tonne (-0.7%), May zinc at 15,390 yuan per tonne (-0.2%), and June tin at 119,950 yuan per tonne (-0.02%).

Other highlights

  • The dollar index, which gauges the strength of the US dollar against a basket of foreign currencies, was slightly up by 0.03% at 100.21 as at 12.14 am Shanghai time.
  • In data on Friday, the US monthly employment report is of note.