LIVE FUTURES REPORT 18/12: LME base metals prove directionless in lackluster day’s trading

The three-month prices of base metals on the London Metal Exchange traded in slim ranges to consolidate mixed at the afternoon kerb on Wednesday December 18.

LME base metals three-month prices were seemingly torn between closing up on US-China trade talk optimism now a phase one deal has been agreed between the world’s two largest economies, or down, capped by a stronger US dollar index, which was trading up 0.24% at 97.44 during the afternoon.

In line with recent sessions, nickel was the biggest downward mover of the day, shedding 0.6% from the December 17 afternoon kerb to close at $13,865 per tonne this afternoon.

Upside price action was capped by a 3,558-tonne inflow into the LME warehouse network this morning – global nickel stocks are now at 133,710 tonnes.

And LME nearby nickel spread contangos continue to widen in line with sustained inflows, with the benchmark cash/three-month spread trading in a $68 per tonne contango this afternoon from $61 per tonne earlier today.

Conversely, the LME three-month copper price, which has trended to the upside in recent sessions, closed below $6,200 per tonne once more, shedding a lesser 0.4% from yesterday’s close to end the day at $6,172 per tonne today.

A 5,125-tonne outflow this morning failed to offer any price support, being tempered by a 3,725-tonne inflow into LME approved sheds at the same time, leaving LME global copper inventory at 160,925 per tonne.

Bucking this trend, the LME three-month aluminium price gained marginal ground despite another huge 43,725-tonne inflow today, closing up 0.7% on yesterday’s kerb close at $1,776.50 per tonne today.

LME nearby aluminium spreads have also eased, with the cash-to-January spread backwardation tipping back into a marginal contango of $3.50 per tonne this afternoon following sustained deliveries of aluminium back onto the LME.

Other highlights

  • The LME three-month lead and zinc prices both closed up at today’s kerb – lead gained 1.7% on the previous day’s kerb to close at $1,926 per tonne while zinc rose a lesser 0.4% to close at $2,301 per tonne today. They were the only metals of the complex not subject to inflows of material into LME approved sheds today, perhaps accounting for upward price action.