METALS MORNING VIEW 14/03: Metals prices get some support from Chinese data

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange are for the most part consolidating this morning, Wednesday March 14, although copper and lead prices are showing gains of 0.5% and 0.3% respectively, with the former at $6,984 per tonne.

Volume has been average with 7,085 lots traded as of 07.06am London time.

This follows a day when most prices rebounded on Tuesday, with the complex closing up by an average of 1%, ranged between a 2.7% rise in lead prices and a 0.7% loss in tin prices - tin was the only metal not to advance.

Gold prices are slightly lower this morning at $1,325.33 per oz, while the rest of the precious metals are firmer with 0.1% gains in silver and palladium and a 0.4% rise in platinum prices. This follows a day of strength on Tuesday when the complex closed up by an average of 0.5%.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange this morning, tin prices are off by 0.6%, while the rest are up an average of 0.6%, with copper prices up by 0.7% at 52,310 yuan ($8,269) per tonne. Lead, zinc and nickel prices are up by 1.2%, 0.6% and 0.5% respectively, while aluminium prices are little changed. Spot copper prices in Changjiang are up by 0.3% at 51,420-51,680 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio has fallen to 7.49, from 7.53 on Tuesday.

In other metals in China, the rout in the steel sector has paused and prices are rebounding with iron ore prices up by 2.1% at 490 yuan per tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. On the SHFE, steel rebar prices are up by 0.7%, while gold and silver prices are firmer by 0.4% and 0.3% respectively.

In wider markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are down by 0.31% at $64.53 per barrel and the yield on US 10-year treasuries has eased to 2.83%, as has the German 10-year bund yield at 0.61%.

Equity markets in Asia are weaker this morning with traders seemingly nervous about US President Donald Trump’s latest administration change with the firing of Rex Tillerson - does this signal he will take a stronger stance on tariffs? Nikkei (-0.87%), Kospi (-0.34%), Hang Seng (-1.326%), CSI 300 (-0.44%) and ASX 200 (-0.66%). This follows weakness in western markets on Tuesday, where in the United States the Dow Jones closed down by 0.68% at 25,007.03, and in Europe where the Euro Stoxx 50 closed down by 0.94% at 3,397.35.

The dollar index at 89.70 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 firmer: euro (1.2392), sterling (1.3963), yen (106.53) and the Australian dollar (0.7881). The yuan is also firmer at 6.3177, while the emerging market currencies we follow are either still consolidating or are strengthening.

Economic data already out shows a pick-up in Chinese data with industrial production rising to 7.2% from 6.2%, fixed asset investment rising 7.9%, up from 7.2% previously, and retail sales were up by 9.7% after a 9.4% rise previously. Data out later includes German consumer price index (CPI), Italian retail sales, EU employment change and EU industrial production. US data includes retail sales, producer price index (PPI), business inventories and crude oil inventories. In addition, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi is speaking at 8am London time.

The pullback in base metals prices appears to have halted for now with most prices getting some lift off recent lows, no doubt helped by better Chinese data. Nickel prices are looking the strongest and the closest to challenging recent highs, while for the rest it is about whether the rebounds can now attract follow-through buying. Given the uncertainty over where trade tariffs are heading it may well be that prices struggle on the upside and need longer to consolidate.

Gold prices are treading water either side of $1,320 per oz, what is noticeable on the charts are the underlying tails on recent candlesticks, which suggest good dip-buying interest. Given the possibility of further trade friction affecting broader markets it may well be that investors get more interested in safe-havens. The other precious metals are consolidating with an upside bias.

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

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