METALS MORNING VIEW 25/04: Metals consolidate, nickel looking vulnerable

The base metals traded on the London Metal Exchange are for the most part firmer this morning, Tuesday April 25, with copper, aluminium zinc and nickel prices up between 0.2% and 0.4%. Three-month copper prices are up 0.4% at $5,678 per tonne. While lead and tin prices are down 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively.

Volume on the LME has been average with 6,856 lots traded as of 06:55 BST.

On Monday, most of the metals consolidated, although nickel prices set fresh lows for the year at $9,245 per tonne.

Gold and silver prices are slightly weaker this morning with prices down 0.2% and 0.1%, respectively, with spot gold prices at $1,273.24 per oz. Considering the positive spin the markets are putting on the French election outlook, which seems to be favouring Emmanuel Macron as the next president, it is surprising that gold prices have held up as well as they have. Platinum prices are little changed at $960.1 per oz, while palladium prices are up 0.3% at $796.30 per oz.

Metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange are for the most part firmer this morning, for a change, with gains ranged between 0.1% for tin prices and 1% for copper prices that were recently quoted at 46,200 yuan per tonne, while nickel prices are bucking the trend with a 0.8% decline. Spot copper prices in Changjiang are up 0.6% at 46,040-46,240 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arb ratio was trading around 8.13.

In other metals in China, September iron ore futures are off 0.2% on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, while on the SHFE, steel rebar prices are up 1.5%, gold prices are down 0.6% and silver prices are little changed. In international markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are up 0.3% at $51.77 per barrel and the yield on the US ten-year treasuries has eased back to 2.29%.

Equities reacted positively to the results of the first round of the French election with the Euro Stoxx 50 closing up 4% on Monday and the Dow closed up 1.1%. The firmer tone has spread through Asia this morning, with the Nikkei and Kospi up 1.1%, the Hang Seng is up 1.2% and the CSI 300 and ASX 200 are up 0.3%.

The dollar index is consolidating around 99.13 after its gap lower on Monday, the index breached a major support line underpinning the lows from December and February for the second time yesterday, the first time was on March 27. So will support hold, or is the dollar about to retreat further? With the US administration about to announce tax reforms that could see overseas dollars return on-shore that could be bullish, but if the tax changes leave a bigger budget deficit then that could see the dollar fall.

The euro at 1.0865 is holding on to most of its gains, the sterling is treading water at 1.2793, the yen is weak at 110.21 and the Australian dollar is consolidating its recent gains. In emerging market (EM) currencies, the yuan is flat at 6.8846 and most of the other EM currencies we follow are either flat or strengthening, which we see as a sign of confidence.

On the economic agenda Japan’s services PPI climbed 0.8%, later there is data out of the UK public sector borrowing requirement and US data includes data on house prices, consumer confidence, new home sales and Richmond manufacturing index – see table below for more details.

The base metals are, at best, consolidating after recent weakness, although nickel continues to fall with prices setting fresh lows for the year as we write. So for now the better sentiment following round one of the French election has not flowed into the base metals and as such, they remain vulnerable. On balance, we still remain friendly towards the base metals’ outlooks but the would-be buyers seem in no hurry to restock.

Gold prices have pulled back from the recent highs, but they are holding up well, especially considering the weaker yen and rebound in sentiment as seen by the rebound in equity prices. However, the dollar is looking vulnerable as it tests support, which is helping to support gold. The more industrial precious metals are consolidating at lower numbers too, but they look better supported than the base metals do. On balance, we would expect gold prices to pull back further if Emmanuel Macron wins the election, the question is will traders run the risk of anticipating this?

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

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