London: Copper slipped on Thursday as optimism over US-China trade talks faded and poor China data weighed, though a weaker dollar and still tight supply-side conditions kept losses in check.
China said the three days of talks in Beijing had established a “foundation" to resolve the two country’s differences, but gave virtually nothing in the way of details on key issues at stake.
At the same time, the world’s biggest base metals consumer released data showing factory-gate inflation rose at its slowest rate in more than two years.
“The question is how sustainable the (China-US) developments will be. It’s given the market breathing space but there’s still no substantial information communicated," said Xiao Fu, head of commodity market strategy at Bank of China International.
Underpinning copper however, the dollar languished near a 3-month low, making dollar-priced metals cheaper for non-US investors.
■ Copper price: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange traded down 0.5% in official midday rings at $5,931 a tonne, snapping three days of gains. The metal fell 18% in 2018 and has slipped 0.1% this year.
■ Copper technicals: “The net spec short is small but growing at 5.4% of open interest. Support (is at) $5,890/900 basis the lows this week," said Marex Spectron in a note.
■ Tin: The soldering metal closed above $20,000 a tonne for the first time since late June on Wednesday. It was last bid up 0.6% in rings at $20,175 a tonne, having hit a fresh six-month high of $2,200.
“The price rise is likely to have been triggered by concerns about supply, for Indonesia – the world’s largest tin exporter – has been exporting considerably less tin since October," Commerzbank said.
■ Tin stocks: Stocks of tin held in LME-registered warehouses are at their lowest in 20 years at just 1,505 tonnes, down 50% since mid-December.
■ Grasberg: Exports of copper concentrate from Indonesia’s Grasberg mine, the world’s second-largest copper mine, are expected to drop to 200,000 tonnes this year from around 1.2 million tonnes in 2018.
■ Chile Copper: Copper production in Chile, the world’s top producer of the red metal, reached 5.33 million tonnes in November, a 6% increase over the same period of the previous year.
■ Anglo American: Mining firm Anglo American Plc is betting on South America as its main growth area for base metals in the coming years, a top executive told Reuters.
■ Other Metals: Aluminium traded up 0.1% in rings at $1,855, zinc traded down 1.5% at $2,454, lead traded up 0.1% at $1,972.50 while nickel was last bid up 0.3% at $11,285.