LIVE FUTURES REPORT 28/03: LME base metals prices edge lower; market awaits direction from key data releases

Base metal prices on the London Metal Exchange were lower across the board during morning trading on Wednesday March 28, with copper recording the biggest decline.

The three-month copper price was down by $28 per tonne after a third straight day of deliveries into LME warehouses. On-warrant copper stocks are now their highest level since June 2013, which has contributed to the red metal’s weaker tone.

A further 8,000 tonnes of copper were delivered into LME sheds this morning, which follows deliveries of 37,575 tonnes and 35,175 tonnes on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

The rest of the complex was similarly weaker this morning due to a lack of clear direction in the market, with participants likely to be paying close attention to major data releases from the United States later today - see data section below.

“Overall it has been a much more sedate session so far today, both in terms of absolute volumes and ranges, with many traders staying away from the base metal noise for now as the random and volatile nature of the onshore sentiment and the broader macro makes the LME market a 2nd or 3rd derivative at best,” said Matt France, Marex Spectron said.

Aluminium edged $6 per tonne lower but the downside was cushioned by a fresh 35,025-tonne cancellation, with the majority of the material cancelled at warehouses in Port Klang and Rotterdam.

Meanwhile, nickel, lead and zinc prices dipped lower but were little changed from Tuesday’s 5pm close with the market consolidating recent gains.

“With prices off again this morning, the market seems to be waiting to see if earlier strength has just been a pause in the sell-off. Concerns over trade wars linger and that seems to be deterring bargain hunters from chasing prices higher,” Metal Bulletin senior analyst William Adams said.

“Overall, we remain bullish on the outlook for the global economy so we see this correction as temporary and are on the looking out for buying opportunities,” he added.

Base metals prices

  • The three-month copper price was down $28 to $6,621 per tonne. Inventories dropped a net 4,200 tonnes to 388,175 tonnes.
  • Aluminium’s three-month price was down $5.50 to $2,039 per tonne. Stocks declined 6,550 tonnes to 1,261,625 tonnes, with 35,025 tonnes freshly cancelled.
  • The three-month nickel price was most recently trading at $12,990 per tonne, a decline of $10. Stocks were down 1,164 tonnes to 322,236 tonnes.
  • Zinc’s three-month price dipped $2 to $3,273 per tonne. Inventories fell 525 tonnes to 209,550 tonnes.
  • The three-month lead price fell $10 to $2,396 per tonne. Stocks dipped 500 tonnes to 129,800 tonnes.
  • Tin’s three-month price declined $25 to $20,850 per tonne. Inventories increased 15 tonnes to 1,995 tonnes.

Currency moves and data releases

  • The dollar index increased 0.1% to 89.42.
  • In other commodities, the Brent crude oil spot price was up 0.17% to $69.65 per barrel.
  • In data today, we have CBI realized sales and GfK consumer confidence from the United Kingdom as well as a host of US data including final gross domestic product (GPD), goods trade balance, preliminary wholesale inventories, pending home sales and crude oil inventories.
  • In addition, US Federal Open Market Committee member Raphael Bostic is speaking.
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