MORNING VIEW: Base metals mixed, but broader markets generally weaker

Base metals prices on both the LME and SHFE were mixed this morning, Thursday July 8, after the United States Federal Reserve’s latest minutes showed a slight pick-up in hawkishness.

  • China is looking to cut the bank reserve requirement ratio (RRR), suggesting the authorities think the economy needs support

Base metals
London Metal Exchange three-month base metals prices were mixed on Thursday July 8, but mainly weaker. Tin was untraded and lead up by 0.1% at $2,292 per tonne, while the rest were down by an average of 0.4%, with copper down by 0.5% at $9,401.50 per tonne.

The most-active base metals on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were also mixed this morning, with the August contracts for aluminium and lead down by 0.7% and 0.6% respectively, while the rest of the complex was up by an average of 0.4%, led by a 1.2% rise in August nickel. August copper was up by 0.4% this morning at 68,940 yuan ($10,643) per tonne.

Precious metals
Spot precious metals were down across the board with losses averaging 0.5%; spot gold was down by 0.4% at $1,798.59 per oz.

Wider markets
The yield on US 10-year treasuries has fallen further and was recently at 1.30%, down from 1.34% at a similar time on Wednesday. It’s not clear whether this is a sign of a pick-up in haven demand, or just a sign that the market is confident the US Fed is not falling behind the curve.

Asia-Pacific equities were mainly weaker on Thursday: the Nikkei (-0.74%), the Kospi (-0.84%), the Hang Seng (-2.6%) and the CSI 300 (-0.99%), while the ASX 200 (+0.23%) bucked the trend.

The US Dollar Index remains near its recent highs and was recently at 95.66, after 95.52 at a similar time on Wednesday.

Most major currencies were on the back foot on Thursday morning: the Australian dollar (0.7454), the euro (1.1802) and sterling (1.3784), while the Japanese yen (110.28) was stronger.

Key data
Key economic data already out on Thursday showed Japan’s economic watchers sentiment rise to 47.6 in June, from 38.1 in May.

Later there is Chinese data on new loans and M2 money supply and US data on initial jobless claims and consumer credit, along with natural gas and crude oil inventories.

In addition, the European Central Bank will release its monetary policy meeting accounts.

Thursday’s key themes and views
The metals are consolidating and for the most part look rangebound: copper is in low ground; zinc in mid-ground; tin, nickel and lead in high ground; and aluminium pulling back from high ground. With the markets looking tired and with the summer lull upon us, the markets may well remain capped, but tightness and the continuing risk that the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 could cause problems for mine supplies and logistics, may well keep prices underpinned.

Gold’s rally has run into some selling this morning, and with the US Fed not springing any surprises, it looks like gold is reacting – albeit in a somewhat delayed fashion – to the stronger dollar.

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