LIVE FUTURES REPORT 23/01: SHFE base metals prices retreat as coronavirus concerns escalate

Base metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were all down at the close of morning trading on Thursday January 23, the final trading day before Lunar New Year holidays kick off in China.

The broad weakness comes amid a pick-up in concerns about the economic impact of a disease outbreak in China as authorities step up their efforts to contain the virus.

All public transport in and out of the Chinese city of Wuhan, in Central China’s Hebei province, has been suspended while authorities try to prevent the spread of a coronavirus that has killed at least 17 people and infected hundreds.

“Fears of the coronavirus spreading could impact commodity markets. The outbreak comes as Asia prepares for the busiest travel period of the year. Restrictions on travel could also limit the construction boom that normally follows the Lunar New Year holidays,” ANZ Research analysts said in a morning report.

“This saw steel rebar futures in Shanghai fall as much as 1.8% on Wednesday, before paring some of those losses into the close,” they added.

As a result, the base metals retreated across the board in the early session on Thursday, with nickel leading the decline. The most-traded April nickel contract slid to 105,900 yuan ($15,334) per tonne at the close of the morning session, down by 2,440 yuan per tonne or 2.3% from Wednesday’s close of 108,340 yuan per tonne.

Elsewhere, the June tin contract fell by 1.2% to 138,440 yuan per tonne, the March zinc contract declined by 1% to 18,140 yuan per tonne, the March copper contract dropped by 0.9% to 48,100 yuan per tonne, the March lead contract retreated by 0.6% to 15,055 yuan per tonne and the March aluminium contract dipped by 0.3% to 14,125 yuan per tonne.

Other highlights

  • The dollar index, which gauges the strength of the US dollar against a basket of foreign currencies, was up by 0.08% at 97.54 as at 11.38am Shanghai time.
  • The Shanghai Composite Index was down by 1.46% at 3,016.18 as at 11.30 am Shanghai time.
  • In US data on Wednesday, existing home sales over the December-January period were better than expected at a reading of 5.54 million.
  • In data on Thursday, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) main refinancing rate will be released, with the current and expected level set at 0.00%. In addition, the ECB will release its monetary policy statement.
  • United States data includes unemployment claims and the Conference Board’s leading index.