LIVE FUTURES REPORT 20/07: Thin volume sees LME complex consolidate; copper stocks continue downtrend

Three-month base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange were subdued during morning trading on Monday July 20, with thin volume keeping most metals range-bound, while a continued downtrend in LME copper stocks kept the metal’s underlying price elevated.

Yet sideways trading comes amid continued caution surrounding the European Union’s economic summit, which continues this week and sees economic leaders across the region gather in Brussels to discuss a potential Covid-19 support fund, along with a long-term budget strategy.

Copper’s outright price on the LME was recently seen at $6,424.50 per tonne, down by 0.36% from Friday’s closing price of $6,448 per tonne, while turnover was at just 2,800 lots as of 9.30am London time.

The red metal’s forward curve continues to trade in a backwardation, with LME copper’s benchmark cash/three-month spread recently seen at $8 per tonne backwardation.

But LME copper’s tight forward spreads are doing little to attract material back to the exchange, with stocks continuing to decline; some 6,275 tonnes were removed this morning from LME-registered warehouses in Kaohsiung, Busan, New Orleans, Port Klang and Rotterdam.

Meanwhile, some 5,600 tonnes was freshly canceled this morning with the bulk of material booked out of warehouses in New Orleans and Rotterdam.

This takes total LME on-warrant copper stocks down to 88,300 tonnes, down from 110,725 tonnes at the start of the month, with the majority of material leaving LME warehouses in Rotterdam.

“The data out of Japan was pretty unpleasant with June numbers showing exports down by 26.2% and imports down by 14.4% and that has fed into the Asian equities most of which are hovering around unchanged,” Kingdom Futures director and chief executive Malcolm Freeman said in a morning note.

“The physical metals world in China has slowed down as the prolonged rainy season in the south has led to further flooding thus slowing the construction industry right down and thus the demand for metals has dropped off,” he added.

Elsewhere in the complex, the three-month nickel price was trading in positive territory over the morning, ticking 0.80% higher to recently trade at $13,210 per tonne, while turnover was particularly low at just 1,610 lots exchanged as of 9.50am London time.

Steady buying in LME nickel futures comes despite a narrowing of the metal’s forward curve, with LME nickel’s cash/three-month spread recently trading at $39.50 per tonne contango, tightening from $45 per tonne contango last week.

LME nickel stocks remain little changed, with on-warrant material levels now at 177,696 tonnes.

Other highlights

  • In other commodities, Brent crude oil futures were up by 0.39%, recently trading at $43.06 per barrel.
  • The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was recently at $40.49 per barrel, a decline of 0.50%.
  • In a light day for economic data, Germany’s producer price index (PPI) was unchanged month on month in June, missing an expected rise of 0.2% and improving from a decline of 0.4% at the prior reading.
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