2018 REVIEW: Sanction, tariff volatility stifle fickle base metals complex; zinc down 26%; tin’s fourth-quarter freeze

While base metals prices began the first quarter of 2018 following the uptrend from the previous year, the advent of sanctions, global trade tensions and tariffs – notably Section 232 – swiftly became a focal point in what became a year of volatile price action.

In addition, a broad trend of depleting LME stocks further exacerbated choppy price action, while strength in the US dollar index above the psychological level of 97 proved detrimental to commodity investment.
“From the middle of this year, the escalating trade conflict between the US and China caused distortions on the metals markets time and again,” Commerzbank’s research note said.
“This is because each new level of escalation made market participants more and more concerned that the trade dispute would have a detrimental impact on the real economy. The reaction in metal prices was correspondingly negative, with prices slumping in the second half of the year after having enjoyed a positive first half year,” it added.

Beginning the year firmly above $7,000 per tonne, copper’s three-month price shed more than 21% over the summer, dropping from a five-year high of $7,348 per tonne in June to a one-year low...

Published

Hassan Butt

December 31, 2018

19:00 GMT

London