Copper recovers, but others slip as China worries weigh
Nickel hits 14-month low, aluminium at 18-month nadir
London: Copper prices recovered on Thursday, but gains were capped and other metals slipped on renewed worries about global growth, including in top metals consumer China.
A global equity rally fuelled by a dramatic surge on Wall Street ran out of steam on Thursday after a fall in Chinese industrial profits offered a reminder of the pressures on the world economy.
“It seems like sentiment in the markets overall is bearish, but I think we just saw some short-covering yesterday,” said Carsten Menke, commodities research analyst at Julius Baer in Zurich.
“It’s ‘metals-light’ growth — consumption in the United States rather than construction in China, which is what we’re looking for in 2019, so there’s really no reason to become optimistic for base metals.”
Earnings at China’s industrial firms in November dropped for the first time in nearly three years, data showed on Thursday, in a sign of rising risks to the world’s second-largest economy.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 0.1% at $5,972 per tonne by 1530 GMT after hitting $5,941 a tonne on Monday, its weakest since 18 September.
■ Nickel: A global nickel market deficit will nearly halve to 49,000 tonnes in 2019 from 93,000 tonnes this year on higher output of primary metals by global suppliers and of lower-grade nickel pig iron (NPI) in Indonesia, Sumitomo Metal Mining said on Tuesday.
LME nickel shed 1.5% to $10,725 a tonne after touching $10,710, its weakest since October 2017.
■ Aluminium spread: The cash aluminium contract moved to a $7.80 a tonne premium to the three-month contract, the highest premium since July and contrasting a discount of $18.25 seen two weeks ago. This usually indicates tighter supply of nearby supplies.
Rusal: Russian aluminium company Rusal said that the board chairman resigned as part of a restructuring it agreed to implement in exchange for a waiver from US sanctions.
The move to lift Rusal sanctions has weighed on prices due to concern about additional supply. LME aluminium slid 1.7% to $1,861.50 a tonne, the lowest since June 2017.
■ Copper stocks: On-warrant LME copper inventories have gained 43% so far in December, data showed on Thursday, indicating better availability of supply.
■ Zinc & Lead: LME zinc fell 0.2% to $2,468 a tonne, lead added 0.6% to $1,996.50 and tin rose 0.3% to $19,440.
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