METALS MORNING VIEW 21/11: Metals prices firmer after shaking off broader market weakness

Three-month base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange were up across the board by an average of 0.4% this morning, Wednesday November 21.

Lead led the rebound with a 1% gain to $1,979 per tonne, while nickel was little changed and the rest were up between 0.2% and 0.3%, with copper up by 0.3% at $6,194 per tonne.

Volume has been below average with 4,562 lots traded as at 7.19am London time.

The rebound comes after Tuesday’s attempt to rebound failed with the complex closing down by an average of 1.2% as weakness in global equity markets and trade worries weighed on sentiment.

Gold prices were little changed at $1,222.91 per tonne this morning, while the other precious metals were up between 0.5% and 0.7%.

In China this morning, the January contracts for base metals prices were for the most part weaker, the exception being lead that is little changed, while aluminium is off 0.2% and the rest are down by an average of 1.5%. The January copper contract was down by 1% at 49,320 yuan ($7,101) per tonne.

Spot copper prices in Changjiang were down by 0.9% at 49,290-49,430 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio has eased to 7.95 from 7.98 on Tuesday.

In other metals in China, the January iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up by 1.3% at 526.50 yuan per tonne. On the SHFE, the January steel rebar contract was off by 2.1%.

In wider markets, spot Brent crude oil prices were stronger this morning, up by 1.50% at $63.40 per barrel, but this is weak compared with the $86 per barrel seen as recently as early October. The yield on US 10-year treasuries was higher at 3.0774%, while the German 10-year bund yield was also firmer at 0.3700%, which suggests the risk-off tone of late may have passed.

Asian equity markets were mixed on Wednesday, with China and Hong Kong bucking the weaker trend seen in western markets on Tuesday: the CSI 300 (0.25%), Hang Seng (0.32%), the Nikkei (-0.35%), the Kospi (0.86%) and the ASX 200 (-0.51%).

On Tuesday, in the United States, the Dow Jones closed down by 2.21% at 24,465.64 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.7%, while in Europe, the Euro Stoxx 50 was down 1.4% at 3,116.07.

The dollar index rebounded on Tuesday and was recently quoted at 96.65 and the euro (1.1398), the yen (112.90) and the Australian dollar (0.7286) have seen their recent rebounds run out of steam. Sterling is consolidating at around 1.2811.

The yuan is holding in low ground at around 6.9421. Apart from the ringgit that remains weak, the other emerging currencies we follow are either consolidating or showing strength, which is encouraging, it shows the recent stress is focused on mature markets.

On the economic agenda today, Japan’s all industries activity declined 0.9%, having previously been up 0.4%. Later there is data on the United Kingdom’s public sector borrowing, with US data including durable goods orders, initial jobless claims, University of Michigan consumer sentiment and inflation expectations, leading indicators, existing home sales, crude oil inventories and natural gas storage.

The base metals are split into three camps with tin recently breaking higher (although it is now testing its breakout), copper, zinc and lead are meandering sideways with rally attempts capped, while aluminium and nickel have been the weakest of the bunch. That said, aluminium seems to have found support in recent days. For now, US/China trade uncertainty dominates and the recent equity weakness has been another factor capping the upside. At some stage a better outlook on trade is expected to unleash considerable pent-up demand – but for now it remains a waiting game.

Gold prices have rebounded after their recent correction and are holding up well for now. With equities under pressure there may be some pick-up in haven asset interest that could underpin gold and the other precious metals, although palladium is already near records highs on inherent fundamental strength.

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