LIVE FUTURES REPORT 08/04: LME nickel at $16,800/t; copper stocks highest since Nov

Nickel continued to reach its highest prices in a month while the rest of base metals on the London Metal Exchange were marginally higher on Thursday April 8, with the prospect of more economic stimulus and supportive fiscal measures in the United States boding well for equity markets and metal futures.

Nickel’s three-month price reached an intraday high of $16,800 per tonne during early trading on Thursday, the highest since March 4, when it was at $17,485 per tonne.

The metal’s price opened 0.8% higher as well, at $16,775 per tonne, from its Wednesday 5pm reading of $16,636 per tonne, which was a decrease from the previous day’s 3% rise to $16,740 per tonne.

“The S&P 500 Index closed at another record high [of 4,079.50 points] on few trades after US President Joe Biden advertised his $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan in a White House speech,” Anna Stablum, LME Desk analyst at Marex Spectron, said in a morning note.

The minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed the US central bank plans to keep its asset purchase program unchanged, while the lending rate will also stay at near-zero levels until at least 2023, which supported equity markets.

Copper’s three-month price was also slightly up on Thursday morning, to $8,980.50 per tonne, from Wednesday’s 5pm closing price of $8,915 per tonne.

Copper inventories on the LME continue to rise, however, showing signs of weaker uptake of the metal than previously expected. There was an inflow of 7,875 tonnes of copper split between warehouses in Trieste and Rotterdam on Thursday.

Total stock levels were at 157,075 tonnes globally, at their highest since mid-November last year, growing 9% since the start of April. Copper stocks at Shanghai Futures Exchange-registered warehouses also rose by 4.9% in the week to April 2, to a total of 197,628 tonnes.

“Sentiment has also been hampered by signs that the Chinese government is looking to quell asset bubbles. The [People’s Bank of China] has asked its major lenders to curtail loan growth for the rest of the year, following a surge in credit in the first two months of the year,” ANZ senior commodities strategist Daniel Hynes said.

“This fueled further concerns of weaker demand in China, with copper struggling to break higher in recent weeks amid concerns over reduced stimulus measures in China,” he added.

Other highlights

  • Aluminium’s three-month price rose to $2,277 per tonne on Thursday morning, the highest it has been this week.
  • The US Dollar index was at 92.30 on Thursday at 9am, decreasing from 91.61 at the same time on Tuesday, which was also supporting LME prices.
  • Economic data out today includes initial jobless claims in the US for the week to April 3. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is also scheduled to speak, while there will also be 10-year bond auctions in Spain, France and the United Kingdom.
What to read next
Fastmarkets proposes to amend the name of the MB-AL-0231 Aluminium P1020A all-in price, delivered Midwest US, US cents/lb to clarify that the price is based on the London Metal Exchange cash aluminium price.
Read more from senior analyst Andy Farida on how the price action in LME nickel has played out in the first half of 2024
Tight aluminium scrap availability, the increase in container costs, sluggish demand in the US and the US market’s current indifference to rising premiums in Europe and Asia were the top subjects discussed during the Harbor Aluminum Summit that took place in Chicago on June 4-6
The publication of Fastmarkets’ aluminium scrap and secondary aluminium ingot price assessments for Wednesday June 12 were delayed because of a reporter error. Fastmarkets’ pricing database has been updated.
Germany-based copper recycling and non-ferrous metal provider Aurubis has started commissioning their secondary smelter in Augusta, Georgia, and could eventually introduce black mass recycling to the facility
Base metals on the London Metal Exchange were mixed in morning trading on Monday June 10, with three-month prices lacking direction amid thin traded volumes due a public holiday in China, the largest market for base metals