LIVE FUTURES REPORT 22/04: LME lead price rises, others fall after Wednesday’s gains

With the exception of lead, base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange were down during morning trading on Thursday April 22. This comes after a day of strength on Wednesday, when aluminium rose to a fresh 2021 high and copper and nickel both ended the day 1% higher.

Lead’s three-month price was the only one to continue the upside momentum on Thursday morning, following a brief pause on Tuesday and Wednesday, when prices were lower.

The heavy metal was up by 0.9% at $2,042 per tonne shortly after 9am this morning, up from $2,023.50 per tonne at the close on Wednesday. On Monday, its closing price had been $2,056.50 per tonne, the highest the metal has gone since March 2.

“With the major Wall Street indices also challenging recent highs again, after only brief pauses earlier in the week, it does look like the markets are in risk-on mode again and the metals may well take their direction from Wall Street,” Fastmarkets head of base metals and battery research William Adams said.

Indeed, when some of the metals rallied on Wednesday, the S&P 500 index was rising, closing the US trading session at 4,173 points, just below its recent all-time high of 4,187 points from April 16.

“We are, however, wary that gold, the yen and bond yields suggest a pick-up in haven demand, which ties in with our medium-term view that we feel a broad market correction is overdue,” he added.

Elsewhere in the complex, prices fell from levels hit on Wednesday, which were aided by a weaker US dollar index, as well.

Aluminium’s three-month price was down slightly to $2,353 per tonne on Thursday at 9am from $2.364.50 per tonne at 5pm on Wednesday.

The light metal’s cash-to-three month spread, which flipped into a backwardation on Wednesday for the first time since March 5, has returned to backwardation, at $1.75 per tonne

Aluminium reached a new year-to-date peak on Wednesday, too, at $2,369 per tonne.

“The gain in aluminium comes amid a demand recovery in major economies, along with concerns that China supply growth may slow as the nation scales up its decarbonization efforts,” ING’s senior commodities strategist Wenyu Yao said.

Copper’s price also fell slightly to $9,416 per tonne at 9am, from a 5pm closing price of $9,445 per tonne on Wednesday, a 1.3% gain on its closing price on Tuesday and the highest the red metal had been in April so far.

“However, in many ways today is not about the prices of the metals but the future of the London Metal Exchange as at today’s board meeting they will decide the future of floor trading in the Ring. Over the last year there have been strong arguments from both the keep it open and the close it down camps,” Kingdom Futures director Malcolm Freeman said.

Other highlights

  • The US Dollar Index was at 91.11 at 9am on Thursday, mostly unchanged from its reading of 91.12 on Wednesday at 5pm.
  • Economic data out on Thursday includes industrial order expectations from the Confederation of British Industry, EU consumer confidence and US data on initial jobless claims for the week up to April 17, and month-to-month leading indicators, and existing home sales readings.
  • The European Central Bank will issue its monetary policy statement and will set its main refinancing rate.