METALS MORNING VIEW 02/02: Metals prices mixed, but look strong overall

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange are at first sight looking quite mixed this morning, Friday February 2, with copper and lead in positive territory, tin unchanged and aluminium, zinc and nickel in negative territory.

But on closer inspection of the charts, all look well placed to push higher following average gains of 1.1% on Thursday. Indeed copper, that has been one of the laggards of late, is up by 0.8% at $7,177 per tonne, aluminium rebounded well on Thursday, zinc and nickel prices are just off recent highs and lead prices are in new high ground, while tin is consolidating after very strong gains.

Volume has been below average with 6,577 lots traded as of 06.25 am London time.

The precious metals are little changed this morning as prices consolidate, spot gold ($1,347.57 per oz), silver and platinum prices are off by around 0.1%, while palladium is up by 0.3%. This follows a day of gains for gold, and the platinum group metals on Thursday, while silver prices were under pressure.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange today, tin prices are down by 0.6% and nickel prices are up 2.3%, while the rest are up between 0.3% and 0.4%, with copper up by 0.3% at 53,310 yuan ($8,466) per tonne. Spot copper prices in Changjiang are little changed at 52,800-52,900 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio has dropped to 7.42 from 7.49 on Thursday.

In other metals in China, iron ore prices are up by 1.2% at 514.00 yuan per tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. On the SHFE, steel rebar prices are up by 0.2%, while gold prices are up by 0.1% and silver prices are down by 0.3%.

In wider markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are firmer, up by 0.18% at $69.83 per barrel, the yield on US 10-year treasuries has climbed again, it was recently quoted at 2.79%, and the German 10-year bund yield remains steady at 0.71%.

Equities in Asia are mixed today: Nikkei (-0.90%), Kospi (-1.68%), CSI 300 (0.51%), Hang Seng (0.09%) and ASX 200 (0.51%). This follows a mixed performance in western markets on Thursday, where in the United States the Dow Jones closed up by 0.14% at 26,186.71, and in Europe where the Euro Stoxx 50 closed down by 0.88% at 3,577.35.

The dollar index is consolidating in low ground, it was recently quoted at 88.70, the low being 88.43 on January 25. The euro and sterling are stronger at 1.2503 and 1.4261 respectively, while the yen (109.72) and Australian dollar (0.8007) are weaker. The yuan continues to strengthen, it was recently quoted at 6.2745, while the other emerging currencies we follow are either consolidating or giving back some of their recent gains, the exception being the Mexican peso that is firm.

On the economic agenda today is the US employment report, ahead of that there is data on Spanish unemployment, UK construction PMI, EU PPI, Italian CPI, with further US data on factory orders and University of Michigan consumer sentiment and inflation expectation. In addition, US Federal Open Market Committee member John Williams is speaking.

As already mentioned, the base metals prices look well placed to rally - dips of late have generally run into buying, which suggests underlying sentiment remains bullish. With prices in high ground, we expect trading to remain choppy, especially as volumes are likely to get thinner as we approach the Chinese Lunar New Year in mid-February, but overall we think the bullish fundamental outlook will underpin the upward trends.

The pullback in the precious metals seems to be consolidation as the dips have been bought. We remain bullish for the industrial precious metals, as we are for the base metals, while we are mildly bullish on gold prices as we expect investors to increase their gold exposure as a means to insure against a possible correction in broader markets - such and bonds and equities.

Metal Bulletin publishes live futures reports throughout the day, covering major metals exchanges news and prices.

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