LIVE FUTURES REPORT 26/03: SHFE base metals prices largely down; Ni, Pb up marginally

Base metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were broadly down during the morning trading session on Thursday March 26, with the complex digesting news that the United States Senate had approved a $2-trillion stimulus package to shore up the US economy amid the novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) pandemic.

The Senate unanimously passed the stimulus package – the largest in US history – late on Wednesday and the bill will next face a vote in the US House of Representatives on Friday.

But while the huge measure reflects the determination of the US government to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, it also signals just how bad of an effect it has had on the US economy, which is keeping investors on the defensive this morning.

In addition, with the release of unemployment claims figures from the US scheduled for later today and expected to spike to a record-breaking number, investors will likely await more concrete evidence on how the US economy is faring in these difficult times.

“Most data releases have certainly taken a back seat given their reflection of an economic reality prior to the [coronavirus] pandemic. However, we are now starting to get data prints that should begin the capture the new reality, on that score tonight’s US jobless claims is the big data release,” Rodrigo Catril, currency strategist at the National Australia Bank, said in a morning note.

“The US jobless claims figures for the week ending 21 March is expected to be very big, last week’s claims printed at 281,000 and the median estimate for the 21 March number is 1.5 million. However, there is a wide range of estimates out there – a couple of estimates as high as 4 million and over a third of economist estimates above 2 million,” Catril added.

In regard to the SHFE base metals, copper gave the joint worst performance of its complex in terms of percentage losses; the most-traded May copper contract slid to 39,130 yuan ($5,514) per tonne, down 230 yuan per tonne or 0.6% from Wednesday’s close of 39,360 yuan per tonne.

Losses were also seen in June tin at 116,020 yuan per tonne (-0.6%), May aluminium at 11,665 yuan per tonne (-0.3%) and May zinc at 14,890 yuan per tonne (-0.1%).

In terms of gains, nickel lead on the upside with a 0.4% gain to 92,220 yuan per tonne, while May lead rose by 0.3% to 13,585 yuan per tonne.

Other highlights

  • The dollar index, which gauges the strength of the US dollar against a basket of foreign currencies, was down by 0.18% at 100.75 as at 11.34 am Shanghai time.
  • The Shanghai Composite Index was down by 0.18% at 2,776.64 as at 11.30 am Shanghai time.
  • Data of note on Thursday includes a European Central Bank economic bulletin, a Bank of England policy meeting and official bank rate announcement as well as unemployment claims and final gross domestic product figures from the US
  • In addition, there are Group of 20 (G20) meetings scheduled throughout the day.