LIVE FUTURES REPORT 20/01: Most SHFE base metals prices down ahead of holidays; Pb up by 1.6%

Base metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were broadly down at the close of morning trading on Monday January 20, with market activity slowing as participants begin to depart ahead of the weeklong break for Chinese New Year (January 24-30).

“Shanghai is beginning to empty as the weeklong Chinese New Year holiday starts on Friday… Queues at my local train ticket office have recently been around the block as migrant workers prepare for their long trips back home,” John Browning, managing director of China-focused brokerage Bands Financial, said in a morning note.

Tin was the worst performer of its complex, with its most-traded June contract dropping to 139,530 yuan ($20,338) per tonne at the close of morning trading, down by 1,160 yuan per tonne or 0.8% from a close of 140,690 yuan per tonne on Friday.

Elsewhere, March copper dropped by 0.4% to 49,040 yuan per tonne, March nickel dipped by 0.1% to 108,320 yuan per tonne and March aluminium was down by 0.1% to 14,270 yuan per tonne. March zinc ticked up by 0.3% to 18,415 yuan per tonne, while March lead was the outperformer with a 1.6% gain to 15,475 yuan per tonne.

The strength in lead follows a significant reduction in deliverable stocks of the heavy metal held in SHFE stocks at the end of last week. At 28,306 tonnes on Friday, SHFE lead stocks are down by 13,494 tonnes from the 41,800 tonnes recorded a week earlier.

Analysts cited continued restocking demand ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday as the main driver behind the drop in lead stocks.

Other highlights

  • The dollar index, which gauges the strength of the US dollar against a basket of foreign currencies, was at 97.62 as at 11.48am Shanghai time. This compares with a reading of 97.30 at a similar time on Friday.
  • The Shanghai Composite Index was up by 0.43% at 3,088.59 as at 11.30 am Shanghai time.
  • In Chinese data on Friday, year-on-year gross domestic product growth stood at 6.1% in 2019, down from 6.6% in 2018, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). China registered industrial output growth of 5.7% last year, compared with 6.2% in 2018. Fixed-asset investments expanded by 5.4% year on year in 2019, versus 5.9% for the previous year. Retail sales increased by 8.0% year on year in 2019, down from 9.0% growth in 2018, the NBS said.
  • In European data on Friday, the United Kingdom’s retail sales on a month-on-month basis fell by 0.6% over the December-January period, missing an expected rise of 0.5%.
  • US’ building permits for the December-January period were lower than expected at a level of 1.42 million, while housing starts over the same period were better than expected at a level of 1.61 million.
  • Elsewhere, the preliminary University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for the December-January period showed a level of 99.1, missing both the expected and prior figure of 99.3.
  • It is a light day for data on Monday with Germany’s producer price index, Bundesbank monthly report and Eurogroup meetings of note. Markets in the United States are closed today to mark Martin Luther King Day.