MORNING VIEW: Base metals prices firmer, but weaker equities may become a headwind

Base metals prices on both the London Metal Exchange and Shanghai Futures Exchange were for the most part little changed to firmer this morning, Monday September 21, with only December nickel in Shanghai showing a loss.

But with Asian-Pacific equities and pre-market major western equity index futures weaker, the metals may face headwinds today.

  • Dollar, US treasuries and gold all consolidating, waiting for direction.

Base metals
Three-month base metals prices on the LME were up by an average of 0.2%, with zinc, lead and aluminium little changed at $2,548, $1,915 and $1,796 per tonne respectively, copper up by 0.2% at $6,860.50 per tonne, while nickel and tin were up by 0.7% and 0.6% at $14,960 and $18,200 per tonne respectively.

Volumes traded on the LME has, however, been light with 3,322 lots traded by 5.51am London time, this compares with an average of 6,013 lots at a similar time across last week.

The most-traded base metals contracts on the SHFE, other than December nickel that was down by 0.5%, were up between 0.5% for October aluminium and 1.9% for October lead. October copper was up by 0.8% at 52,420 yuan ($7,743) per tonne.

Precious metals
The spot gold price continues to consolidate, and was up by 0.1% at $1,953.03 per oz this morning. Spot silver was up by 0.3% at $26.81 per oz, platinum was up by 1.3% at $940 per oz and palladium was up by 1.4% at $2,399 per oz.

Wider markets
The yield on US 10-year treasuries was recently quoted at 0.69%, this compared with 0.68% at a similar time on Friday – the yield has been quite contained in recent weeks, suggesting a market waiting for direction, which seems to be the case across most asset classes.

Asian-Pacific equities were weaker this morning: the CSI 300 (-0.8%), the Hang Seng (-1.49%), the Kospi (-0.99%) and the ASX 200 (-0.9%). The Nikkei was closed.

The dollar index was drifting lower this morning and was recently quoted at 92.82, down from 92.90 at a similar time on Friday.

The other major currencies were mainly consolidating this morning: the euro (1.1863), the Australian dollar (0.7315) and sterling (1.2950), while the yen (104.32) is strengthening.

Key data
There is no key data out on Monday, but there is some central bank activity with Germany releasing a Bundesbank monthly report, and in the United States, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell and Federal Open Market Committee members Lael Brainard and John Williams are scheduled to speak.

Today’s key themes and views

The base metals on the LME are looking quite mixed; copper leads on the upside having extended gains earlier this morning to set a fresh high at $6,877 per tonne, aluminium, zinc and tin are holding up just below highs, while lead and nickel have corrected more, but are nonetheless still consolidating.

But with equities under pressure this morning the base metals may struggle to make headway.

Gold prices continue to consolidate and are looking for direction. If equities weaken further then there may be an initial downward move in gold, but we would then expect a secondary reaction to the upside while money rotates out of equities and into havens.

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