METALS MORNING VIEW 14/12: Metals prices start quietly, but strong data beginning to help

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange started the European trading day slightly weaker this morning, Thursday December 14, with losses in copper (-0.3% at $6,721 per tonne), lead (-0.3%), zinc (-0.2%) and tin (-0.1%), while aluminium is up by 0.1% and nickel prices are unchanged. They have since started to rally, helped by stronger data.

Volume has been above average with 10,186 lots traded as of 07.57am London time.

Gold prices and the rest of the precious metals prices are firmer today, up by an average of 0.2%, with spot gold at $1,255.99 per oz. This follows a stronger day that saw average gains of 1.1% on Wednesday, with most of the gains seen following the much-anticipated Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) rate rise.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange today, copper and aluminium prices are up 0.2% and 0.3% respectively, with copper prices at 52,290 yuan ($7,910) per tonne, while zinc prices are little changed and the rest are weaker with nickel prices off by 0.5% and lead and tin prices both down by 0.6%.

Spot copper prices in Changjiang are up by 0.9% at 52,380-52,540 yuan per tonne and the LME vs Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio is weaker at 7.78.

In other metals in China, iron ore prices are down by 0.6% at 498 yuan per tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. On the SHFE, steel rebar prices are down by 1.6%, while gold and silver prices are up by 1% and 2% respectively.

In international markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are up by 0.28% at $62.94 per barrel, the yield on US 10-year treasuries is weaker at 2.37%, while the German 10-year bund yield is little changed at 0.31%.

Equities in Asia this morning are down across the board: CSI 300 (-0.59%), the Hang Seng (-0.28%), the Kospi (-0.45%), the Nikkei (-0.28%) and the ASX 200 (-0.18%). This follows a mixed performance in western markets on Wednesday where in the United States the Dow Jones closed up by 0.33% at 24,585.43 and in Europe where the Euro Stoxx 50 closed down by 0.15% at 3,576.30. A surprise interest rate rise by the People’s Bank of China has weighed on markets this morning.

The dollar index at 93.46 is weaker, this despite Wednesday’s US interest rate rise and no change in the FOMC’s projection for three interest rate rises in 2018. As the dollar has weakened it has boosted the currencies: euro (1.1832), sterling (1.3431), yen (112.75) and the Australian dollar (0.7666).

The yuan at 6.6079 is stronger, no surprise there given the interest rate rise.

The economic calendar is extremely busy today - data out already includes Japan’s flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) that climbed to 54.2, from 53.6; China’s industrial production growth that fell to 6.1% from 6.2%; Chinese fixed asset investment which grew by 7.2%, down from 7.3% previously, but retail sales climbed 10.2% from 10%. In Europe, French consumer price index (CPI) remained at 0.1%, while its flash manufacturing PMI climbed to 59.3, from 57.7 and French services PMI dropped to 59.4 from 60.4. Data out later includes PMI data out from Germany, the European Union and United States, UK retail sales, the Bank of England’s and European Central Bank’s latest monetary policy decisions, with additional US data including retail sales, import prices, initial jobless claims, business inventories and natural gas storage.

Copper, lead and zinc prices are looking firmer, while aluminium and nickel prices are consolidating in low ground and tin prices are edging higher having suffered a sharp pullback in recent days that tested the previous spike lows seen in June and February. We generally expect sideways trading across the metals complex with continued signs of concerted global growth providing support, while long liquidation ahead of year-end caps the upside.

Gold, silver and platinum prices rebounded after the FOMC announcement, much as we thought they would, but we wait to see how much follow-through buying there is given the opportunity cost of holding precious metals are high and geopolitical tensions are low. While we are not overly bullish for gold, we do expect dips to be supported. Platinum and silver prices are looking particularly oversold.

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

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