WEEK IN BRIEF: LME copper stocks mount; aluminium pricing circle; Chinese imports

Metal Bulletin editor Alex Harrison looks back at some of the key stories from the past week.

Metal Bulletin editor Alex Harrison looks back at some of the key stories from the past week.

Stocks of copper continued to arrive in London Metal Exchange warehouses last week, with 9,925 tonnes moving in to sheds on January 23, sucked in by the backwardation.

Copper Price Briefing editor Mark Burton took a look at the deliveries and the effect on the spreads, and asked whether a second large position is being established, alongside or in place of the dominant position that has been around for the past year.

Sign up here to try out Copper Price Briefing, which also answered the question: where and how quickly will copper stocks rise?

In the physical copper market in China, meanwhile, the trading range for premiums in Shanghai narrowed on large merchants holding material closely, as Metal Bulletin’s Kiki Kang reported.

Pricing circles
Also out of our Shanghai office, Linda Lin reported on large aluminium producer Chalco’s move with other smelters to establish a pricing coalition.

Such circles rarely survive for long, because at least one individual member is likely to do better at any given stage by leaving rather than staying within the group (a phenomenon described as the prisoner’s dilemma).

Here’s a lesson from metals history from one such group, which didn’t even last the night.

Tug-of-war ends
In the Japanese physical aluminium market, meanwhile, negotiations for first-quarter premiums have finally been wrapped up, slowed on this occasion by arguments not about the size of the move, but whether or not premiums should move up at all.

ECB begins programme of quantitative easing
Ahead of the European Central Bank’s adoption of a programme of quantitative easing, announced this week, Metal Bulletin’s Andrea Hotter pondered the likely effects of a move that Germany has long resisted.

China
Import figures for China’s base metals and ferro-alloys industries were published last week.

Metals in Africa
The cobalt market continues to watch the copperbelt in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia closely. Metal Bulletin’s Fleur Ritzema explains why.

Pricing session
Metal Bulletin is holding a web seminar on Thursday January 29 to discuss its Brazilian aluminium premiums: what they are, how they are assessed, and how they fit into the range of prices that we assess.

Stay tuned
EMED shares jumped on Spanish radio shout-out: read the Hotline here.

Alex Harrison
aharrison@metalbulletin.com
Twitter: @alexharrison_mb

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