China’s disappointing trade data for August, with exports unexpectedly down 1% year on year, weighed on market sentiment at a time when trade tensions between the world’s top two economies continue to simmer.
This put pressure on the base metals sector, but a decision by the People’s Bank of China last week to cut the reserve requirement ratio by 50 basis points to its lowest level since 2007 provided a boost to sentiment, with the move expected to free up around 900 billion yuan ($126 billion) in liquidity.
As a result, the SHFE base metals were split into two camps with moves fairly limited in either direction.
Nickel, however, remained the best performer of the complex, with its most-traded November contract trading at 143,620 yuan per tonne as at 9.44am Shanghai time, up by 2,150 yuan per tonne - or 1.5% - from a close of 141,470 yuan per tonne on Monday.
Confirmation that Indonesia’s ban on nickel ore exports will come into effect from next year - two years earlier than expected - remains the major driver behind the strength in nickel prices.
Fastmarkets’ Asian Nickel conference kicks off in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday, where focus will likely be on developments surrounding the export ban.
In copper, prices were little changed to slightly firmer this morning, with the most-traded November contract at 47,460 yuan per tonne as at 9.44am Shanghai time, up by just 40 yuan per tonne - or 0.08% - from a close of 47,420 yuan per tonne on Monday.
“Copper is struggling to keep its head above water after China’s disappointing trade data,” a Chinese broker said.
- Elsewhere in the complex, lead was also in the positive territory, with the heavy metal’s October contract at 17,475 yuan per tonne, up by 75 yuan per tonne - or 0.4% - or from the previous day’s close.
- Aluminum and zinc were both lower, with zinc down the most with a 0.6% decline in its most-traded November contract.
- The dollar index was up by 0.06% to 98.37 as at 9.55am Shanghai time.
- In data on Tuesday, China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose by 2.8% year on year in August, while the producer price index (PPI), which measures costs for goods at the factory gate, declined by 0.8% from a year ago, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
- Later, the United Kingdom’s average earnings index and Jolts job openings from the United States are of note.