METALS MORNING VIEW 13/03: Metals prices remain on a back footing

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange are for the most part little changed this morning, Tuesday March 13. The exceptions are copper, where the three-month price is down by 0.4% at $6,888 per tonne, and zinc which is up by 0.6% at $3,262 per tonne.

Volume has been average with 6,532 lots traded as of 07.02am London time.

This follows a day of weakness on Monday when the base metals complex closed down with average losses of 1.1%.

The precious metals prices are generally weaker, led by a 0.4% decline in spot gold prices to $1,319.22 per oz, with palladium and silver prices down by 0.3% and 0.2% respectively, while platinum prices are up by 0.1%. This follows a day of weakness on Monday when the complex closed down by an average of 0.5%.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange this morning, zinc and nickel prices are up by 0.6% and 0.3% respectively, while the rest are weaker: aluminium (-1.8%), lead (-1.6%), tin (-0.5%) and copper (-0.3%) at 51,890 yuan ($8,197) per tonne. Spot copper prices in Changjiang are down by 0.4% at 51,270-51,520 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio has firmed to 7.53, from 7.50 on Monday.

In other metals in China, the steel sector remains under pressure with iron ore prices down by 0.5% at 479 yuan per tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. On the SHFE, steel rebar prices are down by 0.5%, while gold prices are little changed and silver prices are off by 0.3%.

In wider markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are off slightly at $64.85 per barrel and the yield on US 10-year treasuries has eased to 2.88%, as has the German 10-year bund yield at 0.63%.

Equity markets in Asia are mixed this morning: Nikkei (+0.66%), Kospi (+0.42%), Hang Seng (-0.36%), CSI 300 (-0.85%) and ASX 200 (-0.36%). This follows mixed performance in western markets on Monday, where in the United States the Dow Jones closed down by 0.62% at 25,178.61, and in Europe where the Euro Stoxx 50 closed up by 0.26% at 3,429.48.

The dollar index at 90.02 is still consolidating above what could be a base formation that has built up in late-January and mid-February. The other major currencies we follow are also consolidating: euro (1.2332), sterling (1.3889), yen (106.86), although the Australian dollar is showing some strength (0.7878). The yuan is flat at 6.3300, while the emerging market currencies are for the most part consolidating and those that have been weaker of late seem to be attempting to strengthen again.

Economic data already out shows Japan’s tertiary industry activity fell 0.6% – it had been expected to fall 0.2%, while French private payrolls climbed by 0.4%. Data out later includes Italian quarterly unemployment rate, US small business index, US consumer price index (CPI) as well as the UK’s annual budget.

Most of the base metals prices are still looking weak, led by aluminium and lead. Copper and zinc are consolidating after being weak, while nickel and tin prices are holding up relatively well. We have seen the recent prices weakness as a pause in the overall uptrends. We still see concerted global growth as being bullish for the metals, but the uncertainty over trade wars may mean consumers are in no hurry to step off the sidelines.

The precious metals prices have been under pressure of late, they seem to be consolidating in relatively low ground now. Like the base metals, we see the pullbacks as temporary with traders adjusting to cross currents flowing through the markets – the cross currents being a more hawkish US Federal Reserve chair, uncertainty over how much contagion there will be from US tariffs and some weaker than of late economic data, especially the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data out at the start of the month.

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