METALS MORNING VIEW 14/06: Disappointing Chinese data weighs on base metals prices

Disappointing Chinese economic data suggests there is little to be bullish about and therefore it is unsurprising that the three-month base metals prices on the London Metal Exchange were down across the board by an average of 0.7% on the morning of Thursday June 14.

Nickel led on the downside with a 1.9% drop to $15,355 per tonne, while the rest were down between 0.4% and 0.5%, with copper down by 0.5% at $7,203 per tonne.

Volume has been average with 5,791 lots traded as at 07.19am London time.

This follows a day of general strength on Wednesday when the complex closed up by an average of 0.4%, with nickel prices rising by 2.6%.

Precious metals were firmer today with gold prices up by 0.1% at $1,300.96 per oz, silver prices were little changed, while the platinum group metals were up by 0.2%.

In China, base metals prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange were for the most part weaker – the exception being nickel where the most-traded September contract price was up by 0.9%. The rest were down between 0.3% for August copper and zinc and 1.3% for September tin. The August copper contract was recently quoted at 53,550 yuan ($8,362) per tonne.

In other metals in China, the most-traded September iron ore contract price on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up by 0.6% higher to 472.50 yuan per tonne. Meanwhile on the SHFE, the most-traded October steel rebar contract price rose by 0.2%, while the December silver and gold contract prices were up by 0.1% and 0.4% respectively.

Spot copper prices in Changjiang were up by 0.3% at 53,300-53,460 yuan per tonne and the LME/Shanghai copper arbitrage ratio was at 7.42.

In wider markets, spot Brent crude oil prices were off by 0.03% at $76.49 per barrel this morning. The yield on US 10-year treasuries has firmed slightly to 2.9588%, as has the German 10-year bund yield to 0.4900%.

Equity markets in Asia were weaker on Thursday: Nikkei (-0.99%), Hang Seng (-1.01%), CSI 300 (-0.22%), ASX 200 (-0.12%) and the Kospi (-1.84%). The weakness seems to be on the back of the more hawkish tone from Wednesday’s US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement and economic projections.

This follows a mixed performance in western markets on Wednesday, where in the United States the Dow Jones closed down by 0.47% at 25,201.20, and in Europe where the Euro Stoxx 50 closed up by 0.11% at 3,479.56.

The dollar index has been drifting lower as it consolidates its April/May strength. The index at 93.42 is within the recent 93.21-95.03 range. Meanwhile, the euro (1.1809), sterling (1.3394) and the yen (109.97) are firmer, while the Australian dollar (0.7550) is weaker.

On the economic front, data already out in China shows weaker-than-expected data on fixed asset investments, industrial production and retail sales, while foreign direct investment climbed 1.35% having previously been up by 0.1%. Japan’s revised industrial production climbed by 0.5%, having previously been up 0.3% and Germany’s consumer price index (CPI) was unchanged at 0.5%.

Data out later includes French CPI, UK retail sales, the European Central Bank rate decision and press conference, along with US data including retail sales, initial jobless claims, import prices, business inventories and natural gas storage.

The base metals prices are diverging with copper and tin prices consolidating recent gains; zinc, lead and nickel prices are holding up well after recent strength, while aluminium prices are drifting lower. Given the poor Chinese data and the equity markets’ reaction to the likelihood of stronger monetary policy from central banks, the climate is not particularly bullish and the market may not see follow-through buying until stronger economic data is seen.

Gold prices got some lift following the FOMC rate rise, perhaps the market is getting concerted about the impact of tighter monetary policy on the broader markets and that has led to some pick-up in haven buying. Silver is looking particularly strong with prices back above $17 per oz.


June 14, 2018

09:21 GMT