METALS MORNING VIEW 13/11: Metals firmer on higher hopes for trade deals

Three-month base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange were up across the board by an average of 0.6% on Tuesday November 13.

Nickel and lead prices led with gains of 0.9%, while copper prices were up by 0.5% at $6,075 per tonne.

Volume has been average with 5,328 lots traded as of 06:29am London time.

Precious metals were up by an average of 0.4%, although spot gold prices lagged with a mere 0.1% gain to $1,203.33 per oz.

In China, base metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were mixed, with the January contracts for copper and zinc and December lead each up by 0.1%, while January nickel was up by 0.3%, and January tin prices were up by 1.5%. Meanwhile ,January aluminium prices were off by 0.4%. 

January copper was recently quoted at 49,030 yuan ($7,046) per tonne, while spot copper prices in Changjiang were down by 0.6% at 48,760-48,900 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio was at 8.06.

In other metals in China, the January iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was down by 0.6% at 511 yuan per tonne. On the SHFE, the January steel rebar contract was up by 0.3%.

In wider markets, spot Brent crude oil prices were recently quoted at $69.39, which was up 0.62%. The yield on US 10-year treasuries was at 3.1800% and the German 10-year bund yield was at 0.3854%.

Asian equity markets were mixed on Tuesday: the Nikkei (-2.06%), the ASX 200 (-1.8%) and the Kospi (-0.44%) were all down, while the .Hang Seng (+0.05%) and the CSI 300 (1.10%) were both up.

This follows weakness in western markets on Monday: in the United States, the Dow Jones closed down by 2.32% at 25,387.18, while in Europe, the Euro Stoxx 50 was down by 1.10% at 3,194.08. The technology sector has been leading the weakness. China equities are firmer this morning on renewed hopes for some progress on the US/China trade dispute.

The dollar index is on the climb again, it was recently quoted at 96.64 and is closing in on the August peak at 96.99, so no let-up in the headwind affecting metals’ prices.

Metals are up despite the stronger dollar – the dollar index reached a high of 97.70, having been recently quoted at 97.49. Monday’s highs were the highest it has been since June 2017. With the dollar consolidating yesterday’s gains the other major currencies we follow are off yesterday’s lows: euro (1.1248), sterling (1.2880), the Australian dollar (0.7212) and the yen (113.95).

The yuan remains weak and was recently quoted at 6.9533.

Data already out today shows German CPI unchanged at 2%. The other main data out later is UK employment data and ZEW economic sentiment for Germany and the EU. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, have resumed discussions on trade, which is giving markets some lift.

The base metals are also getting a bit of a boost this morning, but their trends generally remain a mixture of sideways and downwards. The exception is tin, where prices are working higher. The metals are in limbo as they wait for trade developments, but the fact they are getting some lift this morning despite the stronger dollar and equity weakness is noteworthy and suggests some independent strength.

The strength in the precious metals ran out of steam last week and prices have been correcting since then, this despite the weakness in equities. Gold prices at $1,203 per oz are now sitting in the upper levels of the base that was built between mid-August and early October.