METALS MORNING VIEW 29/01: Strong gains seen in most of the base metals

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange are stronger by an average of 1% this morning, Monday January 29.

Nickel and zinc prices lead the way with gains of around 2%, followed by lead prices that are up by 1% and copper prices ($7,147 per tonne) that are up by 0.8%, while aluminium and tin lag with gains of 0.2% and 0.1% respectively.

Volume has been strong with 13,382 lots traded as of 07.09 am London time. Strong gains and high volume bode well.

This follows a mixed performance on Friday, that saw strong gains in tin, aluminium, lead and zinc prices, while nickel prices were off by 0.6% and copper prices were down by 0.3% at $7,091 per tonne.

The precious metals are little changed this morning with spot gold prices at $1,348.75 per oz, silver prices at $17.39 per oz, platinum at $1,010.80 per oz and palladium prices at $1,089.50 per oz. This follows losses in gold, silver and palladium averaging 0.3% on Friday, while silver prices edged up by 0.3%.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange today, base metals prices are for the most part significantly stronger, the exceptions are aluminium, where prices are down by 0.4% and copper where prices are up 0.2% at 53,640 yuan ($8,488) per tonne. The rest are up by an average of 1.7%, led by a 3.3% rise in zinc prices. Spot copper prices in Changjiang are up by 0.2% at 53,230-53,430 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio has edged up to 7.50, from 7.49 on Friday.

In other metals in China, iron ore prices are down by 1.3% at 514.50 yuan per tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange. On the SHFE, steel rebar prices are unchanged, while gold and silver prices are off by 0.5%.

In wider markets, spot Brent crude oil prices are easier, off by 0.29% at $70.26 per barrel, the yield on US 10-year treasuries is strong at 2.68%, and the German 10-year bund yield has climbed to 0.63%.

Equities in Asia are mixed today: CSI 300 (-1.81%), Hang Seng (-0.58%) and Nikkei little changed, while the Kospi is up by 0.91% and the ASX 200 is up by 0.42%. This follows a strong performance in western markets on Friday, where in the United States the Dow Jones closed up by 0.85% at 26,616.71, which is a record high, and in Europe where the Euro Stoxx 50 closed up by 0.48% at 3,647.41.

The dollar index at 89.24 has run into some buying, the recent low was 88.43 seen on January 25. Underlying tails on the candlesticks suggest dip-buying which is not surprising given treasury yields are on the rise. With the dollar’s slide halted, the strength in the other currencies has abated: euro (1.2397), sterling (1.4120), yen (109.02) and the Australian dollar (0.8082). The yuan’s rally is also consolidating, it was recently quoted at 6.3255, and most of the emerging currencies we follow are also consolidating recent gains.

On the economic agenda today there is data on German import prices, which rose 0.3%, which was as expected, but below the 0.8% seen previously. Later there is data on US personal income, personal spending and personal consumption expenditure consumer price index (CPI).

Zinc and nickel prices are rallying strongly and have pushed upward into fresh high ground, tin prices are close to challenging the November 2016 highs at $22,000 per tonne, lead and aluminium prices are poised just below recent highs and copper prices are firmer but seem to be facing more overhead resistance than the other base metals. Whether the halt in the dollar slide becomes a headwind for the metals remains to be seen, overall we remain bullish but expect trading to remain choppy at these high price levels.

After strong runs to the upside, the precious metals prices are consolidating - the halt in the dollar’s slide is no doubt acting as a headwind and after such strong gains we would not be surprised to see some profit-taking. We should now get a feeling for how strong underlying sentiment is by seeing how far prices pullback and how long the rallies are put on hold. Overall, we think there is a broad-based move into commodities, so we expect dips to be short-lived.

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

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