MORNING VIEW: Base metals prices mainly firmer, helped by generally supportive Chinese economic data

Base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange and Shanghai Futures Exchange were mainly firmer this morning, Monday October 19, supported by economic data out of China, especially the 6.9% rise in industrial production, but gross domestic production (GDP) data came in lower than expected.

  • China’s GDP climbed by 4.9% in the third quarter, this after a 3.2% rise in the second quarter, it had been expected to climb by 5.5%.
  • Chinese retail sales, fixed asset investment and unemployment rate all showed improvement – see table below.

Base metals
Three-month base metals prices on the LME were mainly firmer with prices up by an average of 0.4% as at 6.37am London time. Aluminium bucked the trend with a 0.1% fall to $1,862 per tonne, while zinc led on the upside with a 1.1% gain to $2,456.50 per tonne. Copper was up by 0.2% at $6,738.50 per tonne.

The most-traded base metals contracts on the SHFE were mainly firmer, the exceptions were November copper that was down by 0.4% at 51,280 yuan ($7,645) per tonne and November lead that was unchanged. The rest were up by an average of 1%.

Precious metals
The precious metals complex was firmer on Monday, with spot prices up by an average of 1.1%, led by a 1.7% gain in silver ($24.537 per oz), with the platinum group metals up either side of 1.1% and gold up by 0.5% at $1,909.07 per oz.

Wider markets
The yield on US 10-year treasuries has rebounded and was recently quoted at 0.76%, compared with 0.73% at a similar time on Friday.

Asia-Pacific equities were mixed: the ASX 200 (+0.85%), CSI 300 (-0.66%), the Hang Seng (+0.57%), the Nikkei (+1.11%) and the Kospi (+0.22%).

The US dollar index was consolidating this morning and was recently quoted 93.73, after 93.80 at a similar time on Friday.

With the dollar consolidating, most other major currencies were consolidating too, with the euro at 1.1710, the Australian dollar at 0.7091, sterling at 1.2937 and the yen at 105.41.

Key data
Economic data still to come out on Monday includes a monthly report from Germany’s Bundesbank and data on the US housing market.

In addition, there are numerous central bankers scheduled to speak including US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, UK Monetary Policy Committee member Sir Jon Cunliffe and US Federal Open Market Committee members Richard Clarida and Patrick Harker.

Today’s key themes and views
The base metals prices on the LME, with the exception of lead, are holding up well. Indeed, nickel has set a fresh high for the year this morning, as did aluminium on Friday. This suggests the market is upbeat about the prospects for strong demand from infrastructure projects and on the risk that the spread of the pandemic could once again affect production or logistics. Lead seems to be struggling because it is not seen as an infrastructure metal, although the roll out of 5G networks is likely to boost demand for back-up power batteries.

Gold prices are meandering sideways while they continue to consolidate after the $600-per-oz rally between March and August. Given that we are probably entering a volatile period ahead of the US presidential election, demand for havens may well remain elevated.

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