LIVE FUTURES REPORT 15/12: LME base metals prices mixed despite positive Chinese data

Three-month base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange were mixed during morning trading on Tuesday December 15, with nickel being the only metal to see a rise of more than 0.5%, despite positive Chinese economic data.

Nickel continues its upward trend, rising by 0.68% to $17,710 per tonne as at 9am London time, from Monday’s 5pm closing price of $17,590 per tonne.

The stainless-steel additive set a new year-to-date high during early trading on Monday at $17,780 per tonne, and until today, it had set a new 2020 high every day since December 9, when the intraday high was $16,845 per tonne.

Copper also saw a small rise of 0.4% on its price to $7,785.50 per tonne. The highest it has gone this year is $7,973 per tonne, a year-to-date peak reached on December 11.

There was positive economic data out of China in the early hours of Tuesday: industrial production climbed by 7% year on year in November, following a 6.9% growth in October, while retail sales also grew by 5% year on year in November, compared with a 4.3% increase in October, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.

“The People’s Bank of China left interest rates unchanged at 2.95% and consensus still points to more tightening as the economy is ticking along firmly with GDP expected to grow more than 8% next year,” Marex Spectron LME analyst Anna Stablum said.

“With the major player copper’s longs in China taking profits and exiting the market over the last few days, maybe that is a sign of things to come as China can maybe see what the markets are likely to do in the near future and high metals prices are certainly not what they want at the moment as their economy starts to get back to full strength,” Kingdom Futures director Malcolm Freeman said.

Zinc was the final metal to record a price gain this morning, rising by $10 per tonne from Monday’s 5pm close to $2,846 per tonne as at 9am. Zinc’s sister metal lead was down by 0.6% at $2,016.50 per tonne this morning.

After recording a new year-to-date high of $19,750 per tonne at the 5pm close Monday, the three-month tin price was down by 0.65% at $19,620 per tonne as at 9am.

Other highlights

  • The US dollar index stood at 90.75 as of 9am this morning, up from Monday’s close of 90.68.
  • In other commodities, oil prices were also up on Tuesday morning: the Brent Crude oil price was trading at $50.29 per barrel as at 9am, up from Monday’s 5pm price of $49.72 per barrel; the West Texas Intermediate oil price was also up, sitting at $46.93 per barrel as at 9am, up from $46.32 per barrel on Monday evening.
  • Notable economic releases out later on Tuesday include UK employment data, US data on industrial production and the Empire State Manufacturing Index and the Japanese monthly trade balance.
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